The Jon Prosser Awards Program for Outstanding Work by Beginning Scholars in Visual Methodologies



The deadline for nominations for the IVSA Awards Programmes has been extended to March 1, 2024. Award recipients will be notified in July by the IVSA President and the award ceremony will take place at the IVSA Annual Meeting during IVSA 2023 conference.

IVSA members can make nominations. If you are an IVSA member please login to your account. If you are not yet a member please consider joining the IVSA.

The Prosser Awards Program was established in 2015 to recognize outstanding work by beginning scholars in visual methodologies. Because outstanding work in visual methodologies can emerge in a variety of disciplines and practices, Prosser Award nominations are encouraged not only from the social sciences, but also from the humanities, arts, education and other professions.

Prosser Award winners receive a certificate of merit from the IVSA, a cash prize of $1000 USD, and an invitation to publish digital representations of their work through the IVSA web site. Prosser Award winners are also eligible to apply for a Travel Stipend (of up to $1000 USD) to attend the IVSA’s annual conference.

Award Honors

The Prosser Award winner will receive a certificate of merit from the IVSA, a cash prize of $1000 USD, and an invitation to publish digital representations of the nominated work through the IVSA web site. Prosser Award winners are also eligible to apply for a Travel Stipend (up to $1,000 USD) to attend the IVSA’s annual conference.

Eligibility and Nominations

Jon Prosser on the Prosser Award

Prosseror as long as I can remember I have been absorbed with all things visual. As a post graduate student in the 1970s I used photo/object and graphic-elicitation, visual diaries, and cultural inventories; provided participants with cameras; and coupled other evidence with the analysis of ‘found’ visual data through a socio-semiotic approach. At the time, these methods and strategies were mostly unknown in the UK. Initially, I felt isolated, but I struggled to provide a grounded rationale for combining an extensive combination of visual methods within a research process.

As a Research Fellow at Oxford in the late 1980s I conducted research projects on child abuse investigation and child protection. These studies led me to conclude that visual evidence was too often poorly collected, neglected, misinterpreted or over interpreted—with dire consequences for the lives of children. From this point on, the underlying aim of my academic endeavour was to address problems stemming from what I perceived as an overt privileging of verbal and written words and the exclusion of potentially useful visual data. I had four broad aims: to make an impact on the direction of visual research in general and visual methodology in particular; to enhance the rigour, robustness and range of visual methods; to promote wider appreciation and greater acceptance of visual methods within qualitative research; and to improve the quality of training in visual research methods. It is my hope that those applying for the Prosser Award will contribute to advancing visual methodology in some of these terms.

The IVSA, formed in the mid-1970s, is a particularly open and welcoming academic forum, and I found a ‘home’ there. The increasing range of academic disciplines represented within the IVSA family means that it is a wonderful meeting place for exchanging and examining visual methodologies in a critical but supportive atmosphere. Thanks to the IVSA, I’ve met and learnt from creative, insightful, and colourful colleagues from around the world. I’ve enjoyed intellectually challenging adventures applying visual methodology in difficult contexts. As one example, IVSA connections and colleagues have enriched my struggles to apply visual and sensory methodology to understanding the lives of the disabled community–the most vulnerable, under-represented, and least researched members of society.

The Prosser Award is for enthusiastic young scholars adopting a visual methodology. I am excited by the possibility of the Award being used by visual scholars who are passionate about a topic or field of enquiry. I urge all those interested to apply.


    There are dignified stupidities, and there are heroic stupidities, and there is such a thing as stupid stupidities, and that would be a stupid stupidity not to have a camera on board.

    Werner Herzog

  • We never really know what’s around the corner when we’re filming – what turn a story will take, what a character will do or say to surprise us, how the events in the world will impact our story.

    Barbara Kopple


    Every photograph promises more than it delivers and delivers more than it intended.

    Steve Harp


    Visual culture is now the study of how to understand change in a world too enormous to see but vital to imagine.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

  • Before I became a film major, I was very heavily into social science, I had done a lot of sociology, anthropology, and I was playing in what I call social psychology, which is sort of an offshoot of anthropology/sociology – looking at a culture as a living organism, why it does what it does.

    George Lucas

  • Watching a documentary with people hacking their way through some polar wasteland is merely a visual. Actually trying to deal with cold that can literally kill you is quite a different thing.

    Henry Rollins

  • So it is my firm belief, that if you want nowadays, to have a clear and distinct communication of your concepts, you have to use synthetic images, no longer words.

    Vilém Flusser

  • Photographers learn to interpret photographs in that technical way because they want to understand and use that ‘language’ themselves (just as musicians learn a more technical musical language than the layman needs). Social scientists who want to work with visual materials will have to learn to approach them in this more studious and time-consuming way

    Howard Becker


    Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must change.

    Bertolt Brecht


    The task for sociology is to come to the help of the individual. We have to be in service of freedom. It is something we have lost sight of.

    Zygmunt Bauman


    If it’s far away, it’s news, but if it’s close at home, it’s sociology.

    James Reston

  • You try your hardest to give people their space, but at moments you know you’re capturing their image in ways they may or may not be okay with. It’s that rocking back and forth between respect and betrayal that I feel like is at the heart of the film.

    Kirsten Johnson


    One advantage of photography is that it’s visual and can transcend language.

    Lisa Kristine

  • Give us adequate images. We lack adequate images. Our civilization does not have adequate images. And I think a civilization is doomed or is going to die out like dinosaurs if it doesn’t develop an adequate language for adequate images.

    Werner Herzog


    Sometimes one picture is equal to 30 pages of discourse, just as there are things images are completely incapable of communicating.

    William S. Burroughs


    The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.

    Pierre Bourdieu


    For any picture, ask yourself what question or questions it might be answering. Since the picture could answer many, questions, we can decide what question we are interested in.

    Howard Becker

  • I believe that we face incredible obstacles in our attempts to see the world. Everything in our nature tries to deny the world around us; to refabricate it in our own image; to reinvent it for our own benefit. And so, it becomes something of a challenge, a task, to recover (or at least attempt to recover) the real world despite all the impediments to that end.

    Errol Morris

  • If you want to tell the untold stories, if you want to give voice to the voiceless, you’ve got to find a language. Which goes for film as well as prose, for documentary as well as autobiography. Use the wrong language, and you’re dumb and blind.

    Salman Rushdie


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