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Nurs Inq. 2014 Sep;21(3):212-26. doi: 10.1111/nin.12064. Epub 2014 Mar 6.

An exploration of social justice intent in photovoice research studies from 2008 to 2013.

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Health Promotion Risk Reduction (Division II), School of Nursing, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.


In an age where digital images are omnipresent, the use of participant photography in qualitative research has become accessible and commonplace. Yet, scant attention is paid to the social justice impact of photovoice amongst studies that have used this innovative method as a way to promote social justice. There is a need to review this method to understand its contributions and possibilities. This literature review of photovoice research studies (i) explores whether authors implicitly or explicitly related the methodologies to their aims of promoting social justice (methodology-method fit) and (ii) outlines the social justice research impact of photovoice findings using the framework of social justice awareness, amelioration and transformation. PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO and Web of Science databases were searched from the years 2008-13 using the following keywords: photovoice; photonovella; photovoice and social justice; and photovoice and participatory action research. Of the 30 research studies reviewed, only thirteen identified an underlying methodology guiding the photovoice method. The social justice impacts emphasized were more related to social justice awareness (n = 30) than amelioration (n = 11) or transformation (n = 3). Future researchers using photovoice as a way to promote social justice are encouraged to assess and plan for the social justice impact desired.


critical methodologies; photography/photovoice; social justice impact

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