Since at least the early 20th century, situational dynamics have been a core interest in sociological research, as well as some areas of psychology, linguistics, and criminology. Analyzing situational dynamics means to seek understanding of the rules and processes that govern social life on the micro-level, both in everyday encounters and extreme situations. At the core of this perspective lies the question: How do social actions and situational dynamics impact social outcomes?

 

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Until the turn of the millennium, studies interested in real-life situational dynamics mostly employed participant observation of social encounters and retrospective interviews of participants to describe and explain a range of social phenomena, making key contributions to their research fields. Since the early 2000s, an ever-increasing amount of visual data is employed to add to both of these established approaches, allowing to observe situational dynamics more reliably and in more detail.

Video Data Analysis (VDA) distills aspects from a number of existing and established approaches (such as visual studies, ethnography, experimental behavioral studies, and multimodal interaction analysis) into a new methodological framework for analyzing situations and working with video data. It also collects insights from a number of applied research studies.

The approach’s analytic focus, its methodological forebears, as well as a toolkit of analytic dimensions and procedures have been published in the paper “Video Data Analysis: A Methodological Frame for a Novel Research Trend” (2018, Sociological Methods & Research).