Rich Pictures: Sustainable Development and Stakeholders – The Benefits of Content Analysis

Bell, Simon; Berg, Tessa and Morse, Stephen (2016). Rich Pictures: Sustainable Development and Stakeholders – The Benefits of Content Analysis. Sustainable Development, 24(2) pp. 136–148.



This paper concerns the interpretation of pictures that stakeholders draw in order to help them structure and understand complex situations. The pictures in question are called Rich Pictures (RPs) and the matter at the heart of interpretation is insight drawn from eduction (drawing forth). Insights relate to stakeholders of all kinds, be they the individual, the group, the context in which the individual and the group find themselves, or the means whereby the context can be made more sustainable or improved. RP drawing, often as a collaborative, stakeholder exercise, is a powerful activity that has the capacity to break down barriers of lan- guage, education and culture. Drawing upon research with RPs from around the world and spanning 50 years of our combined practice, this paper demonstrates RPs’ utility, universal- ity and resilience. We maintain that RP drawing enriches problem solving and, in the long term, saves time and resources being expended on erroneous and/or superficial tasks.
However, the interpretation of RPs is still in its infancy. By use of processes derived from various forms of content analysis (CA) we argue that RPs can be applied as a powerful tool in a variety of policy fields. Conclusions for application are drawn and suggestions are made for further research relating to the clearer interpretation of RPs.

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