Using pictures to collect and study citizens’ perceptions on landscape degradation

Authors: Giorgia Bressan*, University of Udine, Andrea Guaran, University of Udine
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Landscape, Europe
Keywords: Landscape degradation, Photography competition, Public participation, Collaborative knowledge production, Regional scale
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Senate Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As a result of the continuous interaction between society and environment, the landscape requires constant monitoring to govern its transformations. Its components can be consistent with each other and give the observer a feeling of aesthetic quality, or they may not be integrated and reveal a difficult co-existence between the natural environment and humankind. What can we learn about landscape degradation from the way the people look at the material traces of human activity in the landscapes around them? We argue that respondent-produced photographs offer an opportunity to give voice to lay people, who are generally excluded from the policy-making process, and promote critical reflection on the present state of local landscapes and the co-production of geographical knowledge. The photographs are also potentially an instrument to communicate an insider perspective to those who make decisions on the future of those landscapes. Thus, this work reflects on the implementation and outcomes of a photography competition, launched by our research group, which allowed photography lovers to capture, in a picture, not only the beauty of natural landscapes in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy, but also the critical aspects in its natural, urban and industrial areas. The photography competition, complemented by photo-elicitation interviews, provided to be a creative data collection method. The photographs enabled the participants to become more aware of the problems afflicting the region and to denounce the inability of local authorities and single citizens to make the best use of the resources around them.

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