The Visual Sociology Research Group was born in 2007 to bring the concept of public sociology to life and follow the interests of many of its founders – including Luca Queirolo Palmas, Luisa Stagi, Francesca Lagomarsino, Emanuela Abbatecola and Massimo Cannarella – in using visual language to disseminate the outcomes of social research.
Since then, the Visual sociology Research Group has been using the camera and the video camera as tools to research social reality, producing many documentaries, exhibitions, and graphic novels, but first and foremost it has started to use still and moving images as part of its methodological approach to social research in order to develop its participatory nature.
Much of the work that has been carried out has been experimenting with Generative Narrative Workshops as a technique to develop a relationship with the research subjects and produce participatory visual objects. Recently, thanks to new partnerships, we have been trying out new digital technologies as well as art-based research in the production of ethnographic knowledge.
In addition, the lecturers in the Group have been working a visual perspective into their teaching and, since 2015, a module on Visual Sociology has been introduced in the Media and Communication Programme of the University of Genoa.
To date, Group members have been developing its research activity on the following issues: migrations and borders; youth cultures, gangs, and social activism; prisons and institutional violence; the body and its symbolic transformations; food and its social meanings; sports and physical performance; gender, sexual identity, and work roles; sex work and migrations; urban spaces and home-making processes.
Throughout the years, the Group has gradually drawn professionals from the worlds of cinema, photography, art, graphic novel, and digital technologies, giving rise to heterogenous working groups, innovative approaches to research work, and co-authored visual productions.
The Group’s research and visual productions have been developed in the following countries: Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, Germany, Ecuador, and Mexico.
The Group has been funding its activities only through institutional endowments from the University of Genoa, teaching and training activities, numerous European projects, and specific fund-raising activities.
Together with the Centre Pierre Naville of the University of Paris-Saclay – a centre of excellence in filmic sociology at a European level – the Group has been organizing a range of international conferences since 2015 and has drafted a Visual Sociology Manifesto, as well as publishing the first anthology on Filmic Sociology. With the Faculty of Film Studies and Visual Culture at Concordia University, the Group has organized the second School of Filmic and Visual Sociology . The Visual Sociology Research Group has partnered with IVSA (International Visual Sociology Association) to organize the Paris International Conference (25-28 June 2018).
The Group has founded and has been editing a book series on filmic and visual sociology, published by Genoa University Press (GUP).
To date, the Group has been an active part of an international network of partnerships with other universities and research centers in Europa, the Americas and in North Africa.