Doing Social Sciences Via Comics and Graphic Novels. An Introduction


  • Eduardo Barberis Department of Economics, Society, Politics, University of Urbino Carlo Bo
  • Barbara Grüning Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Milan-Bicocca



Graphic Narrative, Comics, Visualization, Social Research, Communicating Social Sciences


Visual communication is far from new and is almost as old as the social sciences. In the last decades, the interest in the visual dimension of society as well as towards the visual as expression of local and global cultures increased to the extent that specific disciplinary approaches took root --- e.g. visual anthropology and visual sociology. Nevertheless, it seems to us that whereas they are mostly engaged in collecting visual data and analyzing visual cultural products, little attention is paid to one of the original uses of visual material in ethnographic and social research, that is communicating social sciences. Departing from some general questions, such as how visualizing sociological concepts, what role non-textual stimuli play in sociology, how they differentiate according to the kind of public, and how we can critically and reflexively assess the social and disciplinary implications of visualizations of empirical research, we collect in the special issues contributions from social scientists and comics artists who materially engaged in the production of social sciences via comics and graphic narratives.
The article is divided into three parts. Firstly, we briefly address the rollercoaster history of encounters between sociology and the sequential art. Secondly, we reconstruct the dynamics and processes which lead to the institutionalization of a transnational field of comics studies. Finally, we introduce the contributions collected in the special issue, based on the persona experiences of social scientists, sometimes in collaboration with illustrators.


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How to Cite

Barberis, E., & Grüning , B. (2021). Doing Social Sciences Via Comics and Graphic Novels. An Introduction. Sociologica, 15(1), 125–142.



Re-formats: Envisioning Sociology