Creating Hackney as Home

Creating Hackney as Home:
Five reflections on a London borough


About the project

Creating Hackney as Home (2013-15) is a research project led by Dr Melissa Butcher (principal investigator) with Dr Luke Dickens (research associate), in collaboration with five peer research assistants, as well as Hackney-based community arts workers Immediate Theatre and Mouth that Roars. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/K002066/1).

The project uses participatory video production to explore how young people experience a sense of home and belonging in the London Borough of Hackney. The project's five peer researchers spent the summer of 2013 creating short films that capture their experience of living in Hackney. From journeys through and across the city come explorations of the impact of gentrification and the history of style, as well as reflections on growing up and out of space and managing everyday cultural diversity.

Aims of the research

Hackney is a part of London undergoing rapid urban redevelopment as well as being a site of complex diversity and inequality. This research aims to better understand how young people experience these realities and what would enable them to have a greater stake in their neighbourhood.

Our research questions

The team developed the following questions as a basis for their initial research.

  1. How do I define Hackney as Home?
  2. Do I feel I belong in Hackney?
  3. How is Hackney changing?
  4. How do I manage those changes?
  5. How effective is the use of visual and participatory methods in exploring these questions.

Using these questions as a guide, the peer researchers produced short films that reflect on their own personal experiences of belonging, difference, and feeling at home in the borough where they grew up.

Benefits of this research

  • A better understanding of the impact of urban planning and redevelopment on young people.
  • A better understanding of the impact of social factors (age, class, ethnicity and gender) on intercultural interactions in diverse urban space, and how these factors affect negotiations over space use in diverse cities.
  • Allowing for youth voices to be heard in debates on what could and should happen in public space in Hackney, and London as a whole.
  • Further investigation into the methods and outcomes of working with peer researchers, and evaluating whether using visual methods can capture what it feels like to live in a city like London.
  • Providing skills development for peer researchers in film production, research and project management.

The Open University Economic and Social Research Council