Participatory Action Research: An emergent reality?

Davydd Greenwood, William Foote Whyte and Ira Harkavy* argue that the discussions on PAR often miss two important dimensions – the participatory intent of the research process and the actual degree of participation achieved by a project. Like Andrea Cornwell and Rachel Jewkes (see post) they believe that it is very rare to see high levels of participation in a research project but they put forward quite different reasons for why this might happen. For Greenwood et al, PAR is fundamentally an emergent process – even if the researcher starts with a commitment to involve others, it is only over time that this becomes possible.

“Participation is a process that must be generated. It begins with participatory intent and continues by building participatory processes into the activity within the limits set by the participants and the conditions. To view participation as something that can be imposed is both naïve and morally suspect.”

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