Medical Sociology and Storytelling in a Decolonial Context: Exploring Photovoice as a Critical Pedagogical Tool

Medical Sociology and Storytelling in a Decolonial Context: Exploring Photovoice as a Critical Pedagogical Tool

Chinwe Obuaku-Igwe
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6605-3.ch018
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The use of photovoice for storytelling and as a critical pedagogical tool is still exploratory. Despite calls to rethink, re-imagine, and rework curriculums, many challenges remain in designing assessments that utilize creative storytelling formats that demonstrate an awareness of the social context, history, and lived realities of students. This chapter addresses the outcomes of a classroom-based study that explored whether a photovoice essay, used in a medical sociology undergraduate assessment, facilitated a critical analysis of the social determinants of health by students, and oriented them towards taking action. Existing research on critical pedagogy tends to focus on investigating the feasibility or extent of dialogical exploration of societal hegemonies, and prospects of future transformations between teachers and students in the classroom. This chapter provides an overview of how photovoice and reflective writing are used to create new stories by students in a South African university and how it can be supported.
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At the beginning of the fourth term of 2019, the UWC urged faculties to rethink their curricula in line with national goals of decolonization and empowerment. The author, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, was part of the academic regeneration team at the institution. Part of the guiding question was to rethink and re-imagine what a relevant, responsive, and innovative curriculum for the department would look like. In response, the author introduced photovoice, an innovative pedagogical tool to foster experiential learning among students by connecting them to their own lived realities while grounding them in sociological theories and concepts.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Affordability: The ability to pay for healthcare services without foregoing food and other essentials.

Social Determinants of Health: The social factors that shape and influence health. These factors include the places individuals are born, grow, work, play, and age.

Health Systems Responsiveness: A multifaceted process that measures how well a particular health system meets the expectations of its citizens.

Decolonization: The process of undoing or reversing the harmful effects of colonialism.

Healthcare Utilization Pattern: The process of seeking and using biomedical services for the purposes of promoting health, determining health status, or curing existing illness and diseases.

Acceptability: The willingness to accept a particular healthcare service based on anticipated or experienced quality and emotional response to it.

Apartheid: A system of racial discrimination that existed in South Africa and ended in 1994.

Health Inequalities: The differences in health across populations, measured by access to healthcare services and resources.

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