Fringe benefits: Valuing the visual in narratives of hairdressers’ identities at work
Shortt, H. and Warren, S. (2012) Fringe benefits: Valuing the visual in narratives of hairdressers’ identities at work. Visual Studies, 27 (1). pp. 18-34. ISSN 1472-586X Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/14775
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1472586X.2012.642955
In this article, we focus on the use of respondent-led photography, as a narrative method through which we may research identity at work. We base our argument on empirical data drawn from a wider research study, whose aim was to explore the identities of hairdressers through the spaces and objects they experience and encounter in their everyday workplace; hair salons. After making a case for the value and benefits of using visual methods in identity research in a work context, we present four key methodological themes that emerged from our own reflection on the research project. The first discusses the ‘self-portraits’ captured by the respondents; the second explores how images reveal ‘spaces’ of identity construction in the background of the photograph; the third presents the unexpected and unusual objects of identity construction; and the fourth looks at those images ‘taken by accident’ and the important emotional narratives they produce. We argue that relying on solely textual narratives in researching identity at work misses vital performative and contextual data that enrich our understanding of organizational life.