AbstractsPolitical Science

Frames within Themselves: Treating Visual Imagery as a Variable in IR

by Andrew G Dombrowski

Institution: The Ohio State University
Department: Political Science
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Aesthetics; Political Science; International Relations, Political Theory, Aesthetics, Visual Imagery, Foreign Policy, Risk Analysis
Record ID: 2057896
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=osu1420621975


What implications, if any, has the growing ubiquity of visual images had for state security practices and behaviors? To answer this question, this paper considers how social scientists should treat visual imagery as a causal variable in its own right. Of the two literatures that have seriously considered the implications that the visual has for IR, one treats it as an intervening variable and leaves it both under-conceptualized and deeply entangled with the discourse variable (the “CNN-effect”), while the other argues that visual images have no effects apart from the discursive practices that render them intelligible (the “discursive approach”). To date, no study has treated visual imagery as the independent variable. It is argued below that the independent effect that visual imagery enjoys finds its source in the sense experience that it produces in the human subject. Certain sense experiences will elicit universally shared responses from human beings. How an event or object appears is argued to constrain what it can mean.