Community practitioner-researchers are enthusiastic about participatory video’s potential in opening space for new relational dynamics to evolve across difference. In reality, practice involves negotiation between the intention to build expressive agency and the (often conflicting) agendas of the variously positioned project actors.
There is an ethical need to acknowledge the messy reality of the participatory video context, interrogate the power dynamics as processes evolve and understand participants’ experiences of taking part. Research into the approach of Real Time, a UK-based participatory video project provider, identified key practice tensions as basis for more nuanced praxis.
This paper reflects on three tensions as they manifested in two UK projects: one with women from community development backgrounds and one with men on a residential drug programme. It considers participatory video as an iteratively evolving group process and suggests that the relationships that develop through project interactions are a key to maximising possibilities.
It goes on to propose that negotiating practice ethically is an intrinsic factor in the emergent dynamics, which needs ongoing consideration. The paper concludes that there is insufficient contextualised understanding about how participatory video’s potential can be enabled or constrained in longer term projects.