Participatory Action Research

Wikis > Participatory Action Research

Many of the people in communities and organizations have a great interest in learning about their “work”. Traditional experimental research methods have treated the subjects at arm’s length as though there were non-human variables. In communities and organizations these “subjects” are the actors and they are the very learners with the greatest investment in their “work” and how to improve it. My notes from: A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care, Winter & Munn-Giddings What are attractive topics for community-based participatory action research (PAR)?

  1. Effectiveness of Dialogue for changing mindset and goals underlying health and wellbeing at a community level?
  2. Ideal relationship between professionals and participants?
  3. Understanding voice (power), who has it, who doesn’t, what to do to give voice to the currently powerless or invisible ones.
  4. Implications of complex (social) systems. How to extent attention span? How to attend to the unintended consequence of action in systems that feedback into themselves.
  5. What is known about democratic behavior change?
  6. What is respect? What is the role of non-violence in respectful relationships?
  7. What are the limitations of hierarchy? How can the limitations of hierarchy be mitigated?
  8. How can we design a principle based governance of the health care commons?
  9. Can we choose community projects from the Rippel Foundation’s system dynamic leverage points and organize to improve each?


“Essentially Participatory Action Research (PAR) is research which involves all relevant parties in actively examining together current action (which they experience as problematic) in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting on the historical, political, cultural, economic, geographic and other contexts which make sense of it. … Participatory action research is not just research which is hoped that will be followed by action. It is action which is researched, changed and re-researched, within the research process by participants. Nor is it simply an exotic variant of consultation. Instead, it aims to be active co-research, by and for those to be helped. Nor can it be used by one group of people to get another group of people to do what is thought best for them – whether that is to implement a central policy or an organizational or service change. Instead it tries to be a genuinely democratic or non-coercive process whereby those to be helped, determine the purposes and outcomes of their own inquiry. – Wadsworth, Y. (1998)