Are you afraid of press and social media? Ethics in photovoice in participatory health research

Barbara C. Groot*, Janine Schrijver, Tineke A. Abma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Participatory health research (PHR) and the use of arts-based methods continues to grow in popularity. Many scholars acknowledge the importance of (visual) ethics, especially in the dissemination of photographs in a digital age, but ethical issues that arise in relation to contact with the press and social media are not well documented. This article presents second-person action research of a critical case of photovoice in which ethical issues arose when a newspaper report reinforced stigma and was widely disseminated via social media. Press and social media can rapidly engage people for social change, but this also presents risks. What is the potential to de-stigmatize in such situations? The context of the case in this article is the participatory KLIK project, a Dutch initiative which aims to improve the health and resilience of school children aged 8–11 years in a deprived neighbourhood. Awareness of the possibility of political listening and viewing is fundamental for an ethical practice. This article shows the importance of co-ownership, media literacy and collaborative learning about ethics in PHR.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Action Research
Early online date2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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