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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article presents the results of assessing the methods of photographic observation and visual analysis, which bring together visual sociology and environmental and anthropocentric sociology. We review the methodological and cultural aspects of a visual study, using the research of issues faced by the town of Belyov in Tula Region and the surrounding region as an example. Belyov is a small community that is currently going through a multitude of issues, left almost completely on its own as it struggles to remain on the map of Russia and to tackle its challenges independently. The first stage of the longitudinal study, carried out in 2010, highlighted the problems in the Belyov community’s daily life. Here, the typical Russian clash between the government and the “little” people takes the form of opposition against the administration, which the locals accuse of corruption and negligence (something that today’s officials often fall prey to overall). Even though the city does not appear to have any salient community organizations that might be indicative of a strong civic society, its people did hold a small but very important public protest in November 2010, immediately after our study. Today, Belyov is plunged into a profound crisis. Most of the population, which increased somewhat in the early 20th century, is now leaving town to escape a plethora of problems, including unemployment, lack of leisure options, housing issues (the old buildings are dangerously dilapidated, and there is no new construction), etc. The second stage of the study, comparing the town visuals from 2010 and 2011, revealed that nothing had changed throughout the year, and the issues experienced by the locals still remained the same. In fact, the situation worsened. So much would have changed for the better if the roads in Belyov had been repaired, architectural sites renovated, and the general deterioration dealt with. At least one spacious and comfortable hotel would also have been a benefit. But so far, the decaying old town continues to struggle with the new reality.
visual sociology, ecoanthropocentric sociology, sociology of government, visual research, photographic supervision technique, method of visual analysis, diagnostics of a social situation