Creating Hackney as Home

Creating Hackney as Home:
Five reflections on a London borough


Our research approach

The project uses participatory visual research practices to enable the research team as a whole to critically reflect on questions of cultural change, power and identity within wider debates on urban and social transformation.

Underpinning this approach has been an emphasis on developing voice and forms of recognition for each member of the research team’s expertise, perspectives and contributions in the collaborative co-production of geographical knowledge. In this, the notion of creating Hackney as home has been a pivotal point of individual and collective reflection, where together we have sought to produce new forms of knowing the city and its social fabric rather than pursuing any universal underlying truth. Capacity and skill building, in both research and youth work, have been core objectives for all partners, young and old (older!). Through the second phase of this project, which uses the social media tools embedded in this website, we hope to provide a space to explore how others might understand the issues that are important to young people in Hackney today.

Training and capacity building

An initial series of training workshops and field trips provided a foundation in core research skills for the peer researchers. Topics covered included interview techniques, research ethics, visual methods and experimental mapping. In parallel with the research training, the peer researchers also undertook video production training with Mouth That Roars, focusing on practicalities such as scripting dialogue and using cameras.

Following these structured workshops, a process of team and one-to-one support has continued, building skills and knowledge through discussion, evaluation and analysis.

Participatory video production

The films are designed as a key means of initiating a wider process of exploring and understanding urban spaces by looking again with ‘fresh eyes’ to reassess familiar surroundings and social situations. Working in pairs to film in and around Hackney required the peer researchers to draw on experiential knowledge and practice, making use of opportunities and chance encounters, and taking perceptive shots and angles noticed at the time. Production was not over-planned, but instead used a basic schedule to help structure filming while remaining open to the many possibilities of such street-based work.

Reflexive video diaries

A core component of this research has been the use of critical reflection, including video diaries to capture perspectives on everyday experiences and project dynamics. As a result the team has built up a picture of everyday contexts in which feeling ‘at home/not at home’ is expressed, articulated through an unfolding narrative of changes and continuities. Sharing these reflections has established a process of knowledge co-production around the themes and approaches of the project, gradually building up layers of interpretation and analysis.

Screenings, social media and public engagement

Following the completion of filming in October 2013, the second phase of the project involved making the films and other research material publically available, primarily via this website. This has been designed to invite dialogue around the issues that the films raise which the peer researchers have been moderating.

Social media use by young people has been criticised in the past, for example, as being instrumental in spreading riots in London during the summer of 2011, but we believe that these tools also have great potential for creative place-sharing and discussion among young people, as well as with wider public and policy spheres.

The films are hosted on this website in full so that other people can watch them, discuss the issues they raise and share them with others. The films will also be shown at a number of public screenings and Q & A sessions with the team in London and elsewhere. Please join our mailing list to find out where and when these will be taking place.

The peer researchers have also produced a range of other outputs related to the project themes, many of which can be seen here. These include diary excerpts, podcasts and photography. These materials will be regularly updated so please keep checking back to see the latest content.

The Open University Economic and Social Research Council