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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The article covers the results of a visual study carried out in the city of Ivanovo and in a number of district centers in Ivanovo Region, including photographs. We highlight the research opportunities offered by this study method at the initial project stage. We consider it very helpful to observe and to analyze (before the actual interviews) how the people pass their lives, what they strive for, what they are like personally, and which of their daily issues can be spotted with a naked eye. If the study focuses on civic activism, the researcher must see with their own eyes how the local community lives, what activities it pursues, where it works and for what wage (which can be largely deduced from visuals in mass media, notice boards, street ads, etc.), what are its information sources, etc. All of the above dictates the likelihood of civic activism emerging in the community in question. Visual observation in Ivanovo Region has allowed us to put forth a number of second-tier hypotheses (the first-tier hypothesis were formulated during the research planning stage), which may play a key role in further project work. For instance, even a cursory glance shatters the stereotyped perception of Ivanovo as one of the most depression-heavy regions in central Russia. The region is, in fact, thriving, and appears to have more or less favorable living conditions. This prompts a question: does the region’s well-being result from the efforts made by the local authorities or from grassroots activism? The stereotype of Ivanovo’s proletarian culture is also easy to debunk, as today it has become a campus city. That said, we have not noticed any infrastructure for intellectual leisure pursuits. Therefore, we must ask what is to blame for the faults of Ivanovo’s culture scene: the authorities’ oversight, the lack of resources, the passive approach of creative unions and other organizations, or the inertia of the previous urban traditions. The article also covers a number of other stereotypes challenged by visual observations.
visual analyses, social and cultural context, city space, city infrastructure, scientific hypotheses