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Appears in Collections:Communications, Media and Culture eTheses
Title: The complexity of ffotography: conceptualising Welsh photography as a complex adaptive system
Author(s): Macdonald, Ellie M
Supervisor(s): Borges Rey, Eddy
Singh, Greg
Keywords: complexity theory
complex systems
United Kingdom
Issue Date: 6-Jun-2022
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis is a transdisciplinary inquiry into expressions of national identity present in photography generated in and of Wales. It operationalises applied methods informed by complexity theory to conceptualise ‘Welsh photography’ as a complex adaptive system and in doing so makes contributions to the sub-fields of applied complexity, photography, and Welsh national identity. Ontologically, both Welshness and photography exhibit characteristics that are indicative of complex systems. Traditional attempts to apply positivism to Welsh identity and photography have resulted in fracture and polarisation, both of which now demonstrably characterise these phenomena. Complexity theory advocates a dynamic approach to ontology that rejects traditional epistemological reductionism (in which phenomena are understood through their constituent components) in favour of a systems-based approach which accounts for dynamic constructionism, holism, and emergence (Cilliers, 2000). Complexity theory is particularly suited to phenomena that are irreducible, contingent, and dynamic; it places epistemological importance on interactions between components within a system, and offers strategies for apprehending, rather than solving complex phenomena. Complexity-informed research mobilises reflexive inquiry-led methods, in which the researcher and participants have an explicit and collaborative role in the generation of knowledge. To this end, this thesis makes use of unstructured interviews and photo-elicitation to characterise photographic expressions of national identity as an ongoing complex process consisting of a variety of system components and operating within a specific but open environment. This thesis concludes that as Welshness itself is increasingly conceptualised as multiplicitous, so is Welsh photography. Specifically, this thesis contends that photographic Welshness is a negotiated phenomenon, that is continuously constructed and deconstructed through a series of non-linear, dynamic, and fed-back interactions which can be understood as occurring between components within a complex system of photographic practice and wider contextual discourse.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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