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communty report cover: picturing participation

Check out our resources exploring engagement in the HIV sector.  If you cannot access these publications, please send us an email and we can send them to you directly. We are still writing - Please continue to check back for upcoming publications!


Switzer, S.; Flicker, S.; Chan Caruosone, S; McClelland, A; Ferguson, .T.;  Herelle, N.; Yee, D.; Kennedy, S.; Luhlanga, B.; Apong, K.; Corrdick A.,; Grant Stuart.,C; DiCenso, A; de Prinse, K; Guta, A; Paddock, S; Strike, C. (2017). Picturing Participation: Exploring Engagement in HIV Service Provision, Programming and Care. [Community Report]. Toronto. 






Switzer S, Flicker S. Visualizing DEPICT: A Multistep Model for Participatory Analysis in Photovoice Research for Social Change. Health Promotion Practice. 2021;22(2_suppl):50S-65S. doi:10.1177/15248399211045017


As a critical narrative intervention, photovoice invites community members to use photography to identify, document, and discuss issues in their communities. The method is often employed with projects that have a social change mandate. Photovoice may help participants express issues that are difficult to articulate, create tangible and meaningful research products for communities, and increase feelings of ownership. Despite being hailed as a promising participatory method, models for how to integrate diverse stakeholders feasibly, collaboratively, and rigorously into the analytic process are rare. The DEPICT model, originally developed to collaboratively analyze textual data, enhances rigor by including multiple stakeholders in the analysis process. We share lessons learned from Picturing Participation, a photovoice project exploring engagement in the HIV sector, to describe how we adapted DEPICT to collaboratively analyze participant-generated images and narratives across multiple sites. We highlight the following stages: dynamic reading, engaged codebook development, participatory coding, inclusive reviewing and summarizing of categories, and collaborative analysis and translation, and we discuss how participatory analysis is compatible with creative, interactive dissemination outputs such as exhibitions, presentations, and workshops. The benefits of Visualizing DEPICT include feelings of increased ownership by community researchers and participants, enhanced rigor, and sophisticated knowledge translation approaches that honor multiple forms of knowing and community leadership. The potential challenges include navigating team capacity and resources, transparency and confidentiality, power dynamics, data overload, and streamlining “messy” analytic processes without losing complexity or involvement. Throughout, we offer recommendations for designing participatory visual analysis processes that are connected to critical narrative intervention and social change aims.

Switzer, S., Chan Carusone, S., McClelland, A., Apong, K., Herelle, N., Guta, A., Strike, C., Flicker, S. (2021) Picturing participation: Catalyzing conversations about community engagement in hiv community–based organizations. Health Education & Behavior, 0(0), 1090198120977145.

Community engagement is considered a cornerstone of health promotion practice. Yet engagement is a fuzzy term signifying a range of practices. Health scholarship has focused primarily on individual effects of engagement. To understand the complexities of engagement, organizations must also consider relational, structural, and/or organizational factors that inform stakeholders’ subjective understandings and experiences. Community engagement processes are not neutral; they can reproduce and/or dismantle power structures, often in contradictory or unexpected ways. This article discusses diverse stakeholders’ subjective experiences and understandings of engagement within the HIV sector in Toronto, Canada. In our study, a team of community members, service providers, and academics partnered with three HIV community–based organizations to do this work. We used photovoice, a participatory and action-oriented photography method, to identify, document, and analyze participants’ understandings at respective sites. Through collaborative analysis, we identified seven themes that may catalyze conversations about engagement within organizations: reflecting on journey; honoring relationships; accessibility and support mechanisms; advocacy, peer leadership, and social justice; diversity and difference; navigating grief and loss; and nonparticipation. Having frank and transparent discussions that are grounded in stakeholders’ subjective experiences, and the sociopolitical and structural conditions of involvement, can help organizations take a more intersectional and nuanced approach to community engagement. Together, our findings can be used as a framework to support organizations in thinking more deeply and complexly about how to meaningfully, ethically, and sustainably engage communities (both individually and collectively) in HIV programming, and organizational policy change. The article concludes with questions for practice.

Switzer S.; Flicker, S., McClelland, A., Chan Carusone, S., Ferguson, T.,B., Herelle, N., Yee, D., Guta, A., Strike, C., (2020) Journeying Together: A visual exploration of “engagement” as a journey in HIV programming and service delivery. Journal of Health and Place.

The experiences of people living with, or impacted by HIV, who participate in research and programming are relatively-well documented. However, how stakeholders within the HIV sector understand engagement, or how it functions discursively, is undertheorized. We used a comparative case study design and photovoice to explore engagement in three community-based organizations providing HIV programs or services in Toronto, Canada. We invited stakeholders to photograph their subjective understandings of engagement. We employ a visual and thematic analysis of our findings, by focusing on participants’ use of journey metaphors to discuss engagement within and across sites. Visual metaphors of journey were employed by participants to make sense of their experience, and demonstrated that for many, engagement was a dynamic, affective and relational process. Our findings illustrate how journey may be an apt metaphor to explore the relational, contingent and socio-spatial/political specificities of engagement within and across HIV organizations. We conclude with a discussion on implications for practice.

Switzer, S. (2019). Working with photo installation and metaphor: Re-visioning photovoice research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, DOI: 1609406919872395.

The proliferation of participatory visual methods (PVMs) in applied research has highlighted new ways of seeing and thinking about research. A core tenant of PVMs is the situated, collaborative, reflexive, and co-constructed nature of the work and resulting findings. However, as these methods gain popularity, there can be a disparity between how PVMs are theorized, imagined, and facilitated. Although the facilitated and reflexive nature of PVMs is generally understood by practitioners, researchers seldom report on pedagogical design of their projects, even though the facilitation of a method, and a researcher's own lens and orientation to photography will influence the production and reading of images. To achieve greater congruence between paradigm and practice, it may be important to return to fundamental questions about the role of facilitation and the process of crafting and exhibiting images in photovoice in relation to one's study aims. In this article, I explore the crafted role of image-making in the context of a photovoice project that asked stakeholders to visualize engagement in the local HIV sector. Participants created and exhibited 63 photographs and narratives that relied heavily on metaphor as a crafted strategy. They also created three site-specific photo installations. Through detailing our facilitated process, I illustrate how certain design elements (influenced by my peda-gogical and theoretical orientations toward co-theorizing) created the necessary conditions for participants to visualize their ideas through metaphor and installation. In turn, the exhibited images and associated installations created new opportunities for synthesis, dialogue, and dissemination. I conclude with a theoretical discussion of the possibilities for taking a crafted and reflexive approach to image-making in photovoice studies.

Switzer, S. (2020). "Youth Give and Take a Lot to Participate in Things" : Youth Talk Back - Making a Case for Non--Participation. Curriculum Inquiry.

Common typologies frame youth participation as something that exists at different hierarchical, or linear, levels or stages. In these models, non-participation is positioned as something negative or not addressed at all. Scholars have critiqued these typologies for ignoring contextual specificities and complexities, nuances, and power dynamics inherent in participatory processes. In this article, I draw from narratives of young people to productively theorize what non-participation might engender for thinking about and enacting participatory processes. In this study, I asked stakehold- ers at a youth-led HIV prevention and harm reduction peer-educa- tion program to take and discuss photographs that reflected their ideas about youth engagement. I provide a thematic analysis of how young people understood and navigated their participa- tion in complex and self-determined ways. I put their narratives in dialogue with critical scholars’ writing on settler-colonialism, neo- liberalism, and willfulness to tease apart why and how young people’s comments on non-participation offer a sophisticated counter-hegemonic understanding of the “call to participation” and its discursive and material effects. Last, drawing on the work of Indigenous theorists who advocate for a politics of refusal, I argue that young people’s refusal to participate (or to participate on their own terms) may be an act of resistance – especially for young people whose bodies are regulated on a daily basis. I con- clude by making a case for non-participation as a conceptual tool to disrupt and refuse hegemonic, linear theories of change and invite practitioners working with young people to do the same.

Watch a 10-minute video summary of this paper from Canadian Association for HIV Research's 2020 virtual conference.

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