Sociology Index


Participatory research focuses on a process of sequential reflection and action, carried out with and by local people rather than on them. Participants have control over the research agenda, the process and actions in participatory research. Participatory research involves both inquiry and action. Distinguished from other research techniques in participatory research the subjects, usually oppressed or exploited groups, are fully involved in the research, from the designing of topics to the analysis of data.

While the findings of participatory research may be useful and indeed emancipatory, the process of community or neighborhood building during the carrying out of the research is of equal importance. As Community-based participatory research matures, tensions have become recognized that challenge the mutuality of the research relationship, including issues of power, privilege, participation, community consent, racial and/or ethnic discrimination, and the role of research in social change.

Research as Social Work: Participatory Research in Learning Disability. Dorothy Atkinson, Professor of learning disability in the School of Health and Social Welfare at The Open University, British Journal of Social Work 2005 35(4):425-434 - This paper turns the argument around and looks at how research can come to look and feel like social work. This happens particularly, but not exclusively, in participatory research in the learning-disability field, especially in auto/biographical or life-story research, where long-term research relationships are more in evidence. Drawing on the participatory research methodology literature, and her own oral and life-history research, the author explores the areas in which research comes to emulate social-work practice.

A Personal Position Paper on Participatory Research: Personal Quest for Living Knowledge - Marja-Liisa Swantz, United Nations University - Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 2, No. 1, 120-136 (1996). This article is a personal position paper in which the author presents thoughts about participatory research as they evolved during years of search for "living knowledge." The author weaves together experiences gathered from her work in two regions of Tanzania and a personal history to make conclusions about and derive implications for participatory research.

Are Academics Irrelevant? - Roles for Scholars in Participatory Research 
RANDY STOECKER, University of Toledo - American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 42, No. 5, 840-854 (1999)
Interest in participatory research has exploded over the past decade. Academics seem to follow three approaches in participatory research: the initiator, the consultant, and the collaborator. After discussing the approaches, this article argues that doing the research is not a goal in itself but only a means. Participatory research is actually part of a larger community change project that is dependent on four roles: "animator," community organizer, popular educator, and participatory researcher.

Participatory Research A Complementary Research Approach in Public Health 
Bengt Starrin1 and Per-Gunnar Svensson, Centre for Public Health Research, County Council of Vrmland S-651 82 Karlstad, Sweden - The European Journal of Public Health 1991 1(1):29-35;
The aim of this article is to describe basic feature of participatory research and to discuss its merits and drawbacks in social studies. Traditional research methods exclude persons who serve as research subjects from active involvement in all phases of a research project. Participatory research is one way to give people a chance to participate fully in the research process.

Women shaping participatory research to their own needs 

Karen Dullea, independent researcher and counsellor 
Community Development Journal 2006 41(1):65-74;
Participatory research should be guided by the needs and interests of those involved and what they are willing and capable of doing, at that point in time, in order to address oppressive circumstances. A deeply wounding oppression many women experience is that of male-perpetrated physical and sexual violence. Women participating in participatory research aimed at their needs may steer it in the direction of opening up a safe, emotionally supportive space where they can talk about what they have experienced. The impetus might be encouraged by facilitators who are seen as trustworthy and as seriously guided by the needs of the women involved.

Can participatory research be a route to empowerment? A case study of a disadvantaged Scottish community - Mike Titterton, Helen Smart, Community Development Journal.
Abstract: The growth of participatory research in recent years has been notable. This paper considers its potential for empowering disadvantaged communities and providing a route for overcoming social exclusion. Problems of definition and key challenges for undertaking participatory research are reviewed based upon work undertaken in a deprived community in Scotland. Opportunities exist for researchers and community developers together to develop participatory approaches. A principal role for researchers is in bridging the gap between service users and policy makers, funders and other service providers by working with service users to demonstrate the impact of social exclusion. The authors conclude that participatory research merits close attention as long as its difficulties are acknowledged.

Abstract: If project evaluation is difficult, assessing the impact of a research project is very difficult, and to do so for a participatory rural development project utilizing non-formal locally-based methods of information exchange is highly problematic. In this paper we report such an attempt for a project investigation sustainable agriculture and environmental management among mainly farm households in a Philippine watershed. We conclude that a participatory research approach to research design and implementation, as followed in the project under examination, is an effective means to transfer information to and among farmers, thus reducing the subjective costs of adopting new practices.

Engaging in participatory research: some personal reflections - R. Northway 
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 2, No. 3, 144-149 (1998)
The need for critical self-reflection by researchers engaging in disability research has been widely recognized. However, whilst participatory research approaches are beginning to be used with people with learning difficulties, the literature has tended to focus on the principles underpinning such approaches rather than the practical implications of using them. Therefore, this paper seeks to contribute to this area of knowledge by reflecting on the author's experience of engaging in a research project that has sought to use a participatory research approach.

Considering More Feminist Participatory Research: What's Congruency Got to Do With It? - Patricia Maguire, Western New Mexico University 
Qualitative Inquiry, Vol. 2, No. 1, 106-118. 1996 SAGE Publications
The article proposes that there cannot be truly emancipatory participatory research or participatory research advocates without explicit incorporation of feminist perspectives. As part of the larger dialogue regarding taking sides through research, the author asks us to consider a more feminist participatory research. The basis of her argument relates to issues of ontological congruency. After defining feminism(s), the article briefly identifies the androcentric and incongruous aspects of participatory research. It con cludes with specific areas for discussion if we are to consider more feminist participatory research.

Activist Participatory Research Among the Maya of Guatemala: Constructing Meanings from Situated Knowledge - M. Brinton Lykes, Boston College
Abstract: In this article, I analyze two separate experiences with the Maya in rural communities within Guatemala and discuss strengths and limitations of Participatory Action Research (PAR) within this context. These experiences are the context in and from which I explore my "situated otherness" within a praxis of solidarity and question dominant theoretical models for conceptualizing and responding to the effects of war on children. Further, I explore, with my Maya colleagues, alternative methodologies (including PAR) for "standing under" these realities from this position of "other." I conclude the essay with a brief discussion of selected criteria that contribute to evaluating participatory research strategies in PAR and a summary of current efforts to extend this praxis from situations of ongoing violence in Guatemala to more local sites, e.g., Boston, Massachusetts.

Ending Participatory Research? 

Ruth Northway, University of Glamorgan, UK 
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 4, No. 1, 27-36 (2000)
Traditionally, ‘ending’ research is a stage in the research process that is not widely explored. However, recently, some concerns have been expressed regarding the effects that ending participatory research may have on some people with learning disabilities. Given the importance of research which promotes their active participation it is thus important that researchers seeking to engage in such research consider carefully the challenges which may arise. In this paper, therefore, some key implications are considered and an argument is put forward that researchers should consider these implications before commencing work on participatory research projects. This means that ‘ending’ research is a stage in the research process which needs to be given much more emphasis than has previously been the case.

Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Health Disparities - Nina B. Wallerstein, Bonnie Duran, - Health Promotion Practice, Vol. 7, No. 3, 312-323 (2006)
Community-based participatory research has emerged in the past decades as an alternative research paradigm, which integrates education and social action to improve health and reduce health disparities. More than a set of research methods, community-based participatory research is an orientation to research that focuses on relationships between academic and community partners, with principles of colearning, mutual benefit, and long-term commitment and incorporates community theories, participation, and practices into the research efforts.

Research Methods - How to use participatory action research in primary care 

Gert JO Marincowitz - Family Practice Vol. 20, No. 5, 595-600
Objective. The aim of the article is to demonstrate the usefulness of participatory action research (PAR) in primary care. The author used PAR firstly to develop a deeper understanding of mutual participation in the doctor–patient encounter and secondly to apply this learning in a rural cross-cultural practice setting. 

Community-Based Participatory Research in Practice-Based Research Networks - John M. Westfall, MD, MPH; Rebecca F. VanVorst, MSPH; Deborah S. Main, PhD; Carol Herbert, MD - From Annals of Family Medicine.
Abstract: We wanted to describe community-based participatory research in practice-based research networks in the United States.
Conclusion: While perhaps not meeting the classical definition of CBPR, some PBRNs are involving community members and patients in their participatory research. There is a wide spectrum of involvement by community members in PBRN research. Many PBRNs reported plans to involve community members in their participatory research. We believe that community involvement will enhance PBRN research.

Community-Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence

Objectives: To systematically review the literature on health-related community-based participatory research, which combines methods of scientific inquiry with community capacity-building strategies; community-based participatory research aims to bridge the gap between knowledge produced through research and practices used in communities to improve health. The researchers addressed the following key questions: What defines community-based participatory research? How has community-based participatory research been implemented to date with regard to the quality of research methodology and community involvement? What is the evidence that community-based participatory research efforts have resulted in the intended outcomes? What criteria and processes should be used for review of community-based participatory research in grant proposals?

ATECAR: An Asian American Community-Based Participatory Research Model on Tobacco and Cancer Control - Grace X. Ma, PhD, CHES, Jamil I. Toubbeh, PhD, Xuefen Su, MPH (C), Rosita L. Edwards, MA, Center for Asian Health in the Department of Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Health Promotion Practice, Vol. 5, No. 4, 382-394. 2004 Society for Public Health Education.
In the past few decades, community-based participatory research, which underscores the indispensable role of the community in all phases of the research process, has been recognized as a viable approach to working constructively with communities to achieve mutually beneficial goals.