Views of the Neighbourhood: A Photo-Elicitation Study of the Built Environment

Alexander, Victoria D.. 2013. Views of the Neighbourhood: A Photo-Elicitation Study of the Built Environment. Sociological Research Online, 18(1), pp. 185-200. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Drawing on a participant-centred, photo-elicitation study of the built environment in three neighbourhoods, I discuss how people see their neighbourhoods, both in the visual and aesthetic sense, and also how they view (metaphorically) their local surroundings. Participants took part in photo-elicitation interviews and, previously, in standard (verbal- only) semi-structured interviews. Results suggest that people care about their neighbourhoods and value local amenities, attractive houses, public art, and trees, greenery and open spaces. They are concerned about such mundane issues as litter and poorly kept properties, which they find unattractive. Pictures of narrow alleyways and deserted areas were prevalent in connection with fear and vulnerability. I suggest that as participants construct their views of the built environment, they situate their actual neighbourhoods against idealised ‘imagined’ neighbourhoods, and both the actual surroundings and the idealised construction play into their views of their own place. In addition, it is clear that when participants are asked to take photographs of their neighbourhoods, they think visually. Consequently, participants enact their responses differently in visual research than they do in verbal-only research.

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Identification Number (DOI):


Arts Council of England, cultural policy, state funding of the arts, United Kingdom, visual arts State Support of Artists: The Case of the United Kingdom

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute for Cultural and Creative Entrepreneurship (ICCE)



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Date Deposited:

04 Jan 2018 15:13

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:42

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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