Participatory & Collaborative Visual Storytelling:Strengthening Citizen Voice for Social and Political Action

Participatory video in Cambodia with Plan International.

Participatory and collaborative visual storytelling focuses on dialogue, reflection and listening as a means to strengthen the voice of citizens often excluded from mainstream decision-making spaces. Around the world, democracy is enhanced by all citizens being able to participate in the decisions that directly affect them. In turn, governments that are more accountable and responsive to their citizens foster more civil, equitable societies. Here, the spark of story can change lives; especially story as investigated, captured and amplified by people whose voices are often the least heard in society. Social and/or political change through participatory media activities, however, is far from absolute—especially when seeking significant response to the systemic injustices citizens often face. As such, considered approaches are necessary that not only advance citizens' knowledge and agency, but also pay attention to who is listening and how.

This wiki offers publications and participatory media project examples that emphasize voice, recognition and listening as drivers of social change. Projects presented range from participatory video and digital storytelling activities focused on building climate change resilience to story-based mobile phone filmmaking activities focused on reducing gender violence.

Tamara Plush, Visual Storytelling for Social Change

In my visual storytelling practice, I aim to enhance citizen rights through developing and facilitating ethical, effective participatory media activities. This passion has lead to multiple visual storytelling development and research projects with organizations such as UNICEF, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), CARE, ActionAid, ChildFund, Plan International, Sonke Gender Justice, World Vision and the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation in Cambodia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nepal, South Africa and Vietnam. In academia, I recently submitted my PhD through the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. The PhD explores how participatory video can enable citizen voice to be meaningfully valued and politically influential. In 2009, I received an MA from the University of Sussex, at IDS in the UK, in Participation, Power and Social Change. I also have a passion for teaching, and co-facilitated a Masters student course on Participatory Media at UQ in 2015.

Participatory Video: A Definition

Participatory video for raising voice is a creative, transformative learning methodology that can, through reflexive filmmaking processes, raise awareness; develop and empower individuals and groups; amplify voice for engaged dialogue and listening; socially and politically mobilize; foster equitable relationships; and accelerate social change and justice.

-- Definition developed through Tamara's PhD research.