Video Representations and the Perspectivity Framework: Epistemology, Ethnography, Evaluation, and Ethics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the first collected volume of essays on the use of visual representations in the social sciences, Principles of Visual Anthropology edited by Paul Hockings in 1973, Margaret Mead remarks that the “hazards of bias, both in those who film from their own particular cultural framework and in those who see their own filmed culture through distorting lenses, could be compensated for … by the corrective of different culturally based viewpoints” (p. 8). Having pioneered the use of visual anthropology with cyberneticist Gregory Bateson in the late 1930s, her article challenges anthropologists to change their research practice. Her fear was that cultures would disappear with the spread of modernity and that valuable knowledge of cultural performance in worlds still untouched by industrialization would be lost forever: Those who have been the loudest in their demand for “scientific” work have been least willing to use instruments that would do for anthropology what instrumentation has done for other sciences-refine and expand the areas of accurate observation. (p. 10) The practice of anthropology and the study of education have several overlapping similarities-both are grounded in what people say and do when they are in the act of thinking, making, and creating. Both have a history of valuing “outcomes”-artifacts or material representations that demonstrate achievement and advancement. In both practices, there are communities of practice that point out the perils of valuing outcomes more than processes. And, both anthropologists and educators have moved from notions of the grand narrative to a focus on local, situated knowledge (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1996; Geertz, 1983).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationVideo Research in the Learning Sciences
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages35
ISBN (Electronic)9781135604059
ISBN (Print)9780203877258
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering


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