Researching controversial and sensitive issues: using visual vignettes to explore farmers' attitudes towards the control of bovine tuberculosis in England

Authors


  • The information, practices and views in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG).

Abstract

This paper addresses the potential difficulties associated with researching controversial and/or sensitive issues. Drawing on the findings from in-depth interviews with farmers, the paper provides a reflexive commentary on the use of visual vignettes to explore farmers' attitudes towards the control of bovine tuberculosis in England – currently a highly controversial subject. Five short video clips were shown to interviewees to prompt discussions about different aspects of disease control, including methods to vaccinate and cull badgers. Visual vignettes have not been used widely outside the fields of health and social care. The method is used here to encourage interviewees to discuss sensitive issues related to badger control, including their trust in various stakeholders involved in the management of bovine tuberculosis, their own knowledge and understanding about disease control, and their attitudes towards control methods. The results suggest that visual vignettes have a number of advantages that could benefit research in human geography and the wider social sciences.

Ancillary