Visual accountability

Neyland, D. and Coopmans, Catelijne. 2014. Visual accountability. The Sociological Review, 62(1), pp. 1-23. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

Text (Visual accountability)
SOC-NeylandCoopmans2014.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (326kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

In this article, we draw attention to the way in which accountability relations are manifested in and through the use of visual evidence. Through their status as representations of what is the case, evidentiary visual images frequently provide a basis for giving accounts and for raising questions regarding distributions of accountability. At the same time, and in a similar manner to numbers (Munro, 2001), such images become part of organized relations of accountability that can be noted as having ‘hailing’ effects: they call for and prefigure a certain kind of response and dispersing of responsibility. Here we examine how the use of visual evidence is embedded in discursive and material practices that variously create or inhibit possibilities for questioning, or interrogating, this evidence. Drawing on elements of ethnomethodology and actor-network theory, we use ‘interrogation’ as the basis for depicting a three-part analytical schema focused on opening up, closing down and temporality to explore how visual accountability is worked out in surveillance, traffic management and breast screening images.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


accountability relations; visual evidence; interrogation; social organization of work; ethnomethodology; actor-network theory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



27 February 2014Published
15 December 2013Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Oct 2014 11:32

Last Modified:

25 Mar 2021 09:38

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)