Participatory Action Research


This entry introduces the origins and epistemological and theoretical pillars of action research (AR) and participatory action research (PAR), describes the nature of PAR as participative and democratic research practice with transformational focus, discusses the steps and the processes of PAR projects, and considers some ethical implications of undertaking PAR projects. This entry reviews how PAR has influenced conventional research practice and addresses some of the criticisms and challenges of PAR project in relation to the ambitions of working towards social changes and policy impact.

At the core of PAR projects is the triad of action, participation, and research. This entry therefore explores this ambition of PAR to undertake social research not only in order to find out things but also to change things, and how this ethos of planning and working towards social change, rather than hoping to trigger change, sets PAR apart from other conventional types of research. The entry explains how PAR seeks to understand and improve the life world of research participants and collaborators by changing it. The entry discusses how PAR therefore potentially produces a different kind of knowledge.

The three main epistemological pillars of PAR are explored: coproduction (involvement of ordinary people in all aspects of the research process), nonhierarchical power relations, and transformative practice.

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