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Sgoil Cheumnaichean Saidheans Sòisealta na h-Alba

When Methods Meet

Visual Methods and Comics


In this 18-minute film two researchers who work with ethnographic approaches talk about how they have by different routes both come to explore the potential of visual methods and the comic book form as a way of presenting social science analyses of social life. Shari Sabeti and Eric Laurier’s conversation is honest about the challenges of visual representations of material. But it shows that comics have the potential to do much more than a conventional article’s focus on the text of what people say. The ability to capture the context, space and time of ethnographic material extends what can be done by way of engaging with readers who also become viewers through this medium, without compromising on the researcher’s obligation to present participants in a way that allows them to be taken seriously.

Academics in conversation: Dr Eric Laurier, University of Edinburgh ( and Dr Shari Sabeti, University of Edinburgh (


The following are recent contributions to the discussion of the methods. Related webpages Academic Articles
  • S. Grennan, Drawing ‘Dispossession’: A New Graphic Adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Novel ‘John Caldigate’. European Comic Art, Vol 7, Issue 2 (2014)
  • T. Groensteen, The system of comics. (Trans. Beaty, B., & Nguyen, N.) (Jackson MI: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009)
  • E. Laurier, ‘The Graphic Transcript: Poaching Comic Book Grammar for Inscribing the Visual, Spatial and Temporal Aspects of Action’. Geography Compass, 8(4), (2014) pp. 235–248.
  • M. Lynch, Pictures of Nothing? Visual Construals in Social Theory. Sociological Theory(1), (1991) pp. 1–21
  • S. McCloud, Understanding Comics. (New York: Kitchen Sink, 1993)
  • S. Sabeti, ‘Writing creatively in a museum: Tracing lines through persons, art objects and texts’. In: Literacy (12 May 2016)  DOI:


We have created a downloadble resource sheet for this video. It has a transcript of the conversation, the list of references, and suggested seminar questions.