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Introduction to Interpretive Videoanalysis of Social Situations

Hubert Knoblauch, René Tuma and Bernt Schnettler

This book provides an overview of the current state of video analysis, including the most recent developments in this rapidly growing field. It covers various methodological approaches. The authors address practical and technical questions and potential problems arising during the research process. The book also offers a perspective on the theoretical embedding of videography in the interpretive approaches to social research. It comes equipped with detailed, user-friendly aids, including suggestions for further reading, technical pointers, and case studies. The book will be particularly useful for social researchers interested in the collection and analysis of video data on natural interactions and in sociological ethnography.


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2 Development and History of Visual Analyses


This chapter deals with the precursors of video analysis. In addition, it reflects the influence of technical innovations and their retroactive effect on the evolution of videography. In Chapter 1 we provided an overview of the process of video analysis. Now we take a step back and locate videography in a tradition of visual analyses. Although the analysis of audiovisual data as a method of social science research is quite new, it can draw on amazingly long ranks of pre- cursors. They include, without doubt, ethnographic film and the social science analyses of photos and films that were generated in recent years in the fields of anthropology, visual studies, and visual sociology. Admittedly, we cannot reconstruct a unilinear history here, but rather various devel- opmental paths that ultimately lead to videography. We would like to trace some of the most relevant lines of development involving the use of visual recordings for analysis of communicative actions. A more compre- hensive historical presentation of the use of cinematic materials is found in Ramón Reichert’s book Kino der Humanwissenschaften (2007). Precursors of Visual Analyses Before addressing the significance of videos, we must take a quick look at their forerunners: films and pictures. Thus, for example, shortly after photo- graphs were invented in the late 1830s, they were employed for analysis of facial expressions. Several decades later, Charles Darwin, in his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), used photos to compare the ways in which humans and animals...

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