Participatory Video (PV) is used by groups to explore an issue of mutual concern, to document the opinions and aspirations of those participating, to construct a representation of this process in the form of a film and to pursue social change through this process. PV is often used to expose an issue or injustice from the perspective of a marginalised community or several communities. It is used by groups to claim voice, to tell their own stories and to advance social change. People in social movements use participatory video as a way to facilitate relationship building, community development and to resolve tensions between different interest groups (Shaw 2012).
As a method of inquiry, it resonates with the emancipatory and democratising character of Participatory Action Research (PAR), especially when it is employed in a way which acknowledges and aims to deal with power relations and inequalities (Kindon 2003). In some areas of international development work, PV is seen as a neutral catalyst for social change through awareness-raising and sharing knowledge. There is indeed a risk that PV can be instrumentalised and used as a mode of enrolling marginalised people into top-down research or development plans, limiting the agency of PV film making groups, and undermining the emancipatory potential of PV. Thus, as with other methods, PV demands a self-critical reflective process, especially when institutions are involved, in order to deliver on aims of emancipation and positive social transformation (Milne 2016, Shaw 2012).
Below, we have selected a number of resources and pieces of literature that we feel are helpful for understanding PV and especially for advancing its emancipatory potential.
Literature on using PV
Benest, G. (2010) A Rights-Based Approach to Participatory Video : Toolkit. InsightShare, 1–155
Lunch, C. (2007) ‘The Most Significant Change: Using Participatory Video for Monitoring and Evaluation’. Participatory Learning and Action (63), 28–32
Lunch, C. and Lunch, Ni. (2006) Insights into Participatory Video. InsightShare
Mistry, J., Bignante, E., and Berardi, A. (2016) ‘Why Are We Doing It? Exploring Participant Motivations within a Participatory Video Project’. Area 48 (4), 412–418
VISTA (2011) Participatory Video for Marginalized, Disadvantaged or Otherwise Vulnerable Groups. Short Guide for Facilitators and Trainers. VISTA – participatory VIdeo and social Skills for Training disadvantaged Adults
Seminar – Reflections on participatory work with rural communities in Nagaland, India.
Critiques of PV
Kindon, S. (2003) ‘Participatory Video in Geographic Research: A Feminist Practice of Looking?’ Area 35 (2), 142–153
Milne, E.J. (2016) ‘Critiquing Participatory Video: Experiences from around the World’. Area 48 (4), 401–404
Packard, J. (2008) ‘“I’m Gonna Show You What It’s Really like out Here”: The Power and Limitation of Participatory Visual Methods’. Visual Studies [online] 23 (1), 63–77.
Pink, S. (2011) ‘The Visual in Ethnography: Photography, Video, Cultures and Individuals’. Doing Visual Ethnography 21–40
Websites to refer to:
Examples of projects using PV:
PhD Dissertations Using PV (not curated)
Lovell, J.M.G. (2017) So What’s Changed? Participatory action research through which diverse members co-evaluate their community organisation to creatively document their experiences and outcomes. PhD thesis, University of Leeds. Available from http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/18274/
Please email if you have any to add – Colin.email@example.com
List prepared by Christabel Buchanan and Colin Anderson (Last updated: Dec. 3, 2018)