Participatory Photo Mapping in Peru, Part Two

Thursday 19th January 2012 | Author: tspena

Luisa Ryan, M&E Specialist, DRC

I really enjoyed working on the Participatory Photo Mapping project because it gave me the opportunity to try a brand new methodology. Frequently in this type of research, we concentrate on the opinions of NGO workers or thematic experts, but we rarely have the opportunity to ask the general public their opinions in such open ended ways. I really appreciated that this method gives us a way to experience the media sector through the eyes of the public, without imposing too much of our own interpretations. Unlike focus groups or in-depth interviews, PPM allows the respondents to interpret the question “how do you get your information?” in their own way, and to also explain their point of view very freely.

This very open structure allowed for some surprises, such as Mirtha listing historical plaques on buildings as a source of information, or Nehemias listing an Evangelical information booth at university. It really brings the researcher into the lives of the participants, going wherever the participants’ camera went. The way that Mirtha described her home phone as being threatening is a very interesting example of this (since her family had received threatening phone calls), and something which we may not have gotten through more traditional research tools.

PPM also provides a very useful counter point to expert opinion. For example, media experts in Peru may have said that internet and mobile technology had impacted significantly on communication. We can see, however, that over the course of this research only one out of three participants took a photo of a computer, and none took a photo of a cell phone as a communication device – only as something through which to listen to the radio. I was surprised at the contrast with the U.S., I thought that university students would use the internet and cell phones a lot more. Of course, the results from three students cannot be generalized to the whole Peruvian university population, but it was still a surprise.

The students who participated in this pilot are highly educated, and are interested in cultural anthropology. They may therefore be more knowledgeable about research techniques and media as an academic discipline than others we may work with in the future. I am excited to see how we may adapt and use this research tool next!

Explore the project map and let us know what you think!

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