Visualizing War? Towards a Visual Analysis of Videogames and Social Media

Visualizing War? Towards a Visual Analysis of Videogames and Social Media

by Nick Robinson, University of Leeds, UK and Marcus Schulzke, University of York, UK

Political scientists are increasingly engaged with the importance of the “visual turn,” asking questions about how we understand what we see and the social and political consequences of that seeing. One of the greatest challenges facing researchers is developing methods that can help us understand visual politics. Much of the literature has fallen into the familiar qualitative versus quantitative methodological binary, with a strong bias in favor of the former, and has consequently been unable to realize the advantages of mixed-methods research. We advance the study of visual politics as well as the literature on bridging the quantitative versus qualitative divide by showing that it is possible to generate quantitative data that is rooted in, and amenable to, qualitative research on visual phenomena. Our approach to conducting mixed-methods research is an alternative to the more common strategy of seeing various research methods as an assortment of tools, as it is directed at developing an organic relationship between qualitative and quantitative methods. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this strategy for research on visual politics by discussing our own efforts to create a dataset for quantifying visual signifiers of militarism. Read the full article.

Perspectives on Politics /  Volume 14,Issue 4 / December 2016 / pp. 995-1010

Credit: Adam Robinson Photography

Nick Robinson is Associate Professor in Politics and International Studies, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK. His research focuses on the militarisation of social media and the politics of videogames, with specific focus on military games. His recent publications in this area have appeared in Political Studies, Critical Studies on Security, Political Quarterly and Millennium: Journal of International Studies. He is presently working on a book for the Popular Culture and World Politics book series (Routledge) on Videogames and War. His research is funded by a four-year
Framework Grant from The Swedish Research Council entitled, ‘Militarization 2.0: Militarization’s Social Media Footprint Through a Gendered Lens’.