Editors: Catherine Ann Cameron, Claudia Stella

Thriving Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe: Day in the Life Visual Research Approach

eBook: US $39 Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $66
Printed Copy: US $47
Library License: US $156
ISBN: 978-1-68108-881-5 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-68108-880-8 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2021
DOI: 10.2174/97816810888081210101


Thriving Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe: Day in the Life Visual Research Approach is the result of several decades of international, pan-disciplinary research-team collaborations using quasi-ecological visual methodologies to investigate the psychosocial development of children in diverse communities. The initial studies highlighted in this work involved filming a ‘Day in the Life’ of toddlers and primary school children, their families, and schools in diverse communities in Asia, South and North America, and Europe. Filmed in their homes and communities for an entire day, the youngest participants were commonly seen to be thriving in diverse psychosocial domains, such as in their security strivings, emergent literacy and graphic representations, and musicality. Research shows that the nature of a child's development can vary in as many ways as there are diverse contexts. Thriving in the transition from home to primary school is a second developmental milestone investigated in the research.

The book serves as an account of the lived experiences of thriving children,among their families, their schools and their communities. The contents give an invaluable insight into the psychology of early childhood while giving the reader an opportunity to understand the resilience of mobile early teenagers as well as independent older adults. The contributions in the book also provide an additional layer to our understanding of visual ethnography by covering such phenomena as agency and communitarianism, spirituality, and the place of humour in the context of challenges encountered across the lifespan. Through presenting quasi-ecological experimental approaches, this reference enhances the reader’s insight into the texture and nature of thriving in situ, in natural contexts.

Audience: Child psychologists, social workers, researchers, educators and scholars in the field of cultural studies, social sciences, anthropology, ethnography and allied disciplines.


As a social scientist, I am fascinated by how visual images can be used to document people’s experiences in an emotionally visceral fashion. In 2009 I travelled to Halifax as part of a research team studying international youth resilience using a new (to me) visual methodology called ‘Day in the Life’ (DITL), co-developed by Ann Cameron and Julia Gillen. I was delighted to learn Dr. Cameron was one of the research leaders and would be providing instruction in DITL and photo-elicitation. We used DITL to study youth from five different countries by filming a day in their life from morning until bedtime. From video clips in their day and pictures they took, we learned how the youth viewed themselves in relation to the world around them. For example, while videoing a young Canadian Indigenous girl, I learned how she experienced exclusion from certain city spaces, from various streets and stores, and how she coped by interpreting this with her family who freely discussed the history of racism and showed an inclusive way of listening to each other. Video clips and pictures by a young boy showed the influences pushing him to join youth gangs and how his resistance and the support from a few family members helped shape an identity that was not gang involved. That I could learn this and more through DITL astounded me, and my experience of the youth being studied was much richer than could be achieved by more traditional qualitative research methods. The power of this methodology is vividly brought to life in the resplendent collection found in Thriving Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe: ‘Day in the Life’ Visual Research Approach.

Ann Cameron and Julia Gillen co-developed DITL in 2001 for four large ongoing international research initiatives in more than 15 nations investigating thriving toddlers, school transition, early adolescents, and older adults living independently. DITL research from the early years was published in Gillen and Cameron’s 2010 book, International perspectives on early childhood research: A ‘Day in the Life’. A later DITL book, with Claudia Stella, was published in Portuguese and included DITL research from Brazil! The current volume is based on this last book and is a product of this strength-based authorship and visual research. The book highlights the flexibility of DITL and shows variations in how individuals thrive globally and across the life course, highlighting themes such as the importance of family, intergenerational musicality, cultural practices, spirituality, humour, touch, school, and so much more. More than anything else, DITL provides a window into how people experience their world. This book also captures the power of visual methodologies, the development of DITL, epistemological shifts, and researchers’ experiences. I particularly appreciate that chapters outlining theory and process involved in DITL and histories of visual methods contain examples of additional rich and diverse DITL research.

Finally, I am impressed by the ethical and respectful actions of the authors in locating research within the social settings of the participants rather than of the researchers. Cameron, Stella, and all of the chapter authors have found a way to honour the participants by employing DITL, allowing readers to see the world through the eyes of each individual, and by ensuring their stories and pictures are shared.

Carolyn Brooks
Department of Sociology
Saskatoon, SK