Coding Assignment

Assignment Background

The goal of this assignment is to offer you some experience working with both textual and visual

data. This dataset presents you with photographs taken by participants in a research study

conducted by Professors David Butz and Nancy Cook in a village in northern Pakistan.

Community members were given digital cameras, asked to take photos “that evoke the

importance of the Shimshal road for their everyday lives”, and then discuss their photos.

A selection of these photos and narratives have been published in a digital book that is publicly

available online in Brock University’s Digital Repository. Each photograph is accompanied by a

paragraph-length summary (in English) of the participant’s explanation of the photograph.

The book is organised according to six themes that reflect different ways members of this

community understand their lives to be affected by the construction of a road: 1) spaces and

social contexts; 2) artifacts and visible traces; 3) mobile activities and embodied practices; 4)

social relations; 5) identities; and 6) meanings and interpretive frames.

Pick ONE of these chapters to code, and analyse the photos and narratives in it according to the

following research question:

Research Question: What is the importance of the Shimshal road for everyday life?


Assignment Instructions

1) Read the Introduction of the book (pp. 1-8) to get a sense of the project’s context

Assignment Instructions

1) Read the Introduction of the book (pp. 1-8) to get a sense of the project’s context;

2) Pick one of the six chapters, and code BOTH the pictures and the accompanying captions

in that chapter according to the research question above;

a) For example, if you pick “Part 6 – Identities,” you are only responsible for reading and

coding that chapter;

3) Write an essay of at least 1,500 words in which you:

a) First, develop a brief written summary of the main codes developed through your coding

process, backed up by evidence from the dataset.

i) This should include a description of each code, how it relates to the research question,

and a justification of how you think the code is reflected in the texts, including

specific examples.

ii) You do not need to interpret or explain the codes you develop from the data. This

task would require you to connect your analysis to the scholarly literature.

b) Second, using the context provided in the introduction of the book, your experience of

coding these photos and narratives, and relevant lecture and assigned reading materials,

reflect on the different epistemological characteristics and affordances of text and

visual images. Possible questions you might use to think through this include:

i) What do you think images can tell us about social life? What do you think they

cannot tell us? What do you think text can tell us about social life? What do you think

it cannot tell us?

ii) What are the benefits and disadvantages of using images as a technique for gathering

information that enables “in-depth and empathetic understandings of how people in

particular situations or with particular social characteristics experience, act in and

give meaning to their own lives and social contexts”, as compared to text?

iii) What about using text and images in combination, as you did in this assignment?

c) Third, reflect on your coding process, what you learned from coding and analysing

these texts, and what you might do differently when analysing another data set.

d) Fourth, include in an appendix your coding work. One way to do this is to take

photographs of your coding work (as jpeg files) and incorporate them into your Word


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