Visual methods in research on fear of crime
A critical assessment
The visual is omnipresent in daily life, and many of these visuals are crime-related. Yet, research on fear of crime is mainly verbal. Exceptions do exist however and these exceptions are the focus of this critical overview. Over 100 studies on fear of crime in which visual methods are employed were analysed. A wide variety of visual methods, both qualitative and quantitative, have been used to collect data to examine various research questions related to fear of crime. Based on the (increasing) role and influence that the respondents have with respect to the visuals in the data collection process, four types of studies are distinguished. Respondents are asked to react to visuals, adapt or create visuals themselves. The fourth type of studies are of a collaborative nature: respondents can influence the contents, format, publication and circulation of the visuals. Visual methods can enhance the research process, data collection and data. The potential of visual methods is especially relevant for studies concerned with contextual and environmental characteristics. Also, when participants are asked to create visuals, whether or not in a participatory framework, surprising and unforeseen findings can be found. Sharing (best) practices helps to handle (ethical) challenges when adopting visual methods.