Over the last decade, participatory video has become more popular as a participatory methodology for practitioner-researchers wanting to include overlooked and hidden perspectives. Participatory video can give voice and representation to marginalised communities, and help connect and build new relationships and social dynamics between individuals, groups and wider public. However, there are a number of intrinsic tensions and ethical considerations in the participatory video process. And who is actually watching and listening to these participatory videos, and what is the real-world influence of video-mediated dialogue?
In this paper, we propose that participatory video can contribute to building agonistic pluralism, namely a recognition of the unavoidable tensions between perspectives, and maintaining, rather than erasing difference when working towards positive change. We draw on our comparable experience of using participatory video methodologies within conservation and development to consider how it can be used to progressively build agency and deeper criticality, and to navigate between building collectively for political leverage and addressing difference between stakeholders across communities.
A key message of the paper is that navigating between interests and intrinsic tensions requires longer-term and iteratively evolving processes of participatory video, rather than a short-term production method.
We also discuss the contribution of participatory video to building dialogue between communities and influential decision makers given the discriminatory norms and intractable social dynamics that maintain inequalities in the context of governance.
Using an agonistic pluralist approach can enable practitioner-researchers wanting to apply participatory video more effectively and ethically to reflect on their intentions, processes and outcomes.