In this contribution we present an analysis of a participatory video (PV) research project conducted in Lagos (Nigeria) by the Development Planning Unit of the University College of London and Justice and Empowerment Initiative, an organization supporting the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation to resist evictions and claim for security of tenure in Nigeria. The bulk of the research project was a 5-day PV workshop between DPU and JEI in Lagos with 25 members of the Federation.
This experience demonstrates that applying well-being analysis through participatory mechanisms has a series of potentials in advancing social change. While the findings are related to a very punctual action-research activity and related mostly to the practice of PV, the underpinning lesson learned is that there are synergies and complementarities between participatory action research and well-being analysis. Through participatory processes, well-being analysis can deepen and broaden its findings, revealing hidden dimensions of wellbeing as well as unpacking the instrumental relations between them; participatory processes, as applied in this experience, can unpack social diversity, exploring people’s experiences and how they relate to issues of age, gender, class, ethnicity and (dis)abilities; participatory processes has also the potential to reveal the enabling/disabling conditions within which wellbeing is being negotiated, finally, the participatory process, most importantly, engages in a reflection about action, about people’s (un)freedom to bring about change, therefore addressing issues of agency.
The research shows that participatory well-being analysis has a key role and potential to expand the participatory capabilities of research participants. As it took place in our workshop, the research process can facilitate relationship building as well as enabling critical collective learning.
Nevertheless, this research also demonstrates the importance to design research activities collaboratively in ways that builds on synergies of interests and capacities among research partners.