Picture of Purvi Dass
Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Purvi Dass - Wednesday, 13 August 2014, 10:35 AM
 

Dear Friends,

The unit 2 sets the context of emergence of participatory research (PR).  It unfolds the two distinct historical traditions viz., Northern Tradition and Southern Tradition which have contributed to the evolution of the concept and the practice of PR to a great extent. Northern Tradition represents collaborative utilization focused research with practical goals of system improvement. Action Research as Northern Tradition actually laid the foundation of participatory research. Southern Tradition openly challenged the historical colonial practices of research and political domination of knowledge by elites. Liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire, international adult education movements, participatory research network, and participatory action research influenced participatory research.

The unit orient us further with the debates around participation in international development programmes and the ways PR drew strength from such debates; worldview of feminist movements and anti-racist movements and the ways PR was integrated in such action oriented people centred movements.

 Do read the unit carefully and post your reflections on the following question.

What, in your opinion, is the most important historical influence in the growth of participatory research and why?

I appreciate your efforts of sharing your views in context of questions posed in Unit 1 DF. I understand you are full time professionals with many parallel commitments and you did it. Just a suggestion........ The more we participate, discuss and respond to each other's point of view the more we gain insights about the PR processes. Let this forum be truly interactive, not just a one way dialogue between ` me and you’ or `you and me’.

A special thanks to Tuhin for responding to the query of Hejbullah.

This forum will close on 24th Aug 2014, just a day before the submission of assignment 1.

Happy Reading,

All the best,

Purvi

 
Picture of Nazmul Alam
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Nazmul Alam - Friday, 22 August 2014, 1:54 PM
 
Social research, to many extent faced criticism of being a part of “soft science” , thus from the beginning the pioneers tried to conduct social research following the path of ‘natural sciences’. In doing so, many criticism emerged within the social research practitioner. The Participatory Action Research (PAR) emerged inquiring several fundamental issues such as, relationship between the means and ends of social research, relationship between researcher and researched, neutrality and objectivity etc. Two tradition played important role in shifting the paradigm of social research and emergence of participatory research. Participatory research was greatly influenced by the scholarly thoughts of Northern Tradition that reflected a paradigm shift from applied social science research to the participatory approach to applied research. Kurt Lewin, challenged existing gap between theory and practice and rejected “positivist belief that researchers study an objective world”. According to him, a research cycle should have a process that ensures collaboration with groups/community and this new process that challenged the traditional aspects of research was termed as “Action Research”. However, some consider his work as “conservative influence” on PR as it less emphasizes on active community participation and did not challenge existing power relationships. But it is the works of Paulo Freire whose work popularized the PRA at international level. Like Lewin, he also, was a critic of positivism and was more focused on the research that are more people and people perception oriented. According to his work “Conscientisation” showed that common people are capable of producing knowledge and building on the premise that ‘knowledge is power’, the participatory research approach assisted socially marginalized people to critically investigate their reality, analyze it, and then undertake collective action to bring about constructive changes in their lives. As over the years, the knowledge elites controlled the knowledge “production system” to maintain status quo and make people dependent on elite section of the society for all services and resources. However, these things started to change as the work of Freire spreading to many countries. Marja Swantz is another early influence. Her works in Tanzania shows that both researcher and researched can works as development agent of change. In the process the adult educators started to focus more on local knowledge to seek technical solution of local people. And they make sure that local people are encouraged to bring in their own solution of the problem through their experience, skill and wisdom. This process become very popular in many ways as it contributed more in knowledge generation and building capacity of local people. Through this practice “Participatory Research” came to shape. To my belief, it is the southern tradition that has the most impact in developing the Participatory Research. The intellectuals from this tradition tried to step out of the traditional knowledge generation. As previous cases, such attempts were unimaginable. Although the northern tradition initiated the debate but it was southern who took the challenge and went for the field test. And through the experience of adult literacy work in Brazil and Tanzania showed the potential of a new research process known as Participatory research.
Picture of Khaleda Akhter
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Khaleda Akhter - Saturday, 23 August 2014, 1:34 PM
 

Participatory Research (PR) is a process where social scientist works in collaboration with group, organization, and or community. PR is a form of action research that is also referred to as collaborative inquiry, emancipatory research, action learning or contextual action.

Participatory Research has an extensive history in many fields of social practice. PR as learning by doing and it developed out of social psychology. It was built upon the critical pedagogy of Paulo Freire, who in 1970 wrote that domination is the fundamental theme of our epoch and liberation is the goal. PAR is a popular methodology in education, feminist studies and sociology. Northern Tradition and Southern Tradition are two traditions played an important role to shift the paradigm of social research and to appearance of participatory research.

Northern Tradition (Kurt Lewin) laid foundation for PR, shifted form applied social science to participatory, and problem solving approaches and practitioners and researchers as equals in research process.  A northern Tradition belief that assumes problems can be solved through education, new knowledge and transformational leadership.

 On the other hand, Southern Tradition (Paulo Freire) emphasized importance of experiences in transformation of society. It critiques positivism and western orientated researchers study of an objective world. Southern Tradition believed in inclusion of people perspective and critical consciousness of oppression and the possibilities of liberation. Its shows common people are capable of producing knowledge and building on the premise that ‘knowledge is power’, the participatory research approach assisted socially marginalized people to critically investigate their reality, analyze it, and then undertake collective action to bring about constructive changes in their lives. This way a specialized field of knowledge began devaluing indigenous knowledge and alternative system of knowledge production. Marja Swantz was another early influence. Her works in Tanzania showed that adult educators can play the role of both facilitators as well as researcher of the adult education and realized that education needed to be more democratic and accessible to the people. Based on these insights, adult educators began to rely more and more on local knowledge for the technical solution of problems facing the people, who were encouraged to contribute their own experience, wisdom, and skills to the research. Through this practice, they began to articulate the term "participant research".

Therefore, it is clear that Southern Tradition of participatory research has influenced more in social investigation of problems, involving participation of oppressed and ordinary people in problem posing and solving. It is an educational process for the researcher and participants, who analyze the structural causes of named problems through collective discussion and interaction. It is a way for researchers and oppressed people to join in solidarity to take collective action for radical site-specific social change.
As we know that, the main goal of PR is for both researcher and participant to develop a critical consciousness. Whether initiated at the request of a community group or researcher, it is very important that the community group or individuals are involved in the research process. Because the goal of PR is to be democratic, participatory, and to give a voice to the oppressed, ignoring the impact of PR on the lives of people could have negative effects and it is possible by following the aspects of Southern Tradition of PR.

 

 

 

 

Picture of Kazi Eliza Islam
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Kazi Eliza Islam - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 12:36 AM
 

In my opinion, participatory research was highly influenced by the scholarly thoughts of “action research” that emphasizes the need of a new types of research for transformational change. The promoter of “action research” Kurt Lewin underscored that problems could be solved through institutional changes based on new knowledge, education and transformational leadership that inspire a self-reflective community of inquiry. Kurt Lewin also challenged the gap between theory and practice and sought to solve the practical problems through a research cycle involving planning, action, reflection, problem solving and rational decision making for new actions. Though Lewin’s work was regarded as a conservative influence on PR because it placed less emphasis on active community participation and did not challenge existing power relationships, I believe that Kurt Lewin laid out the foundation of participatory research by emphasizing the need of ensuring equal participation of practitioners and researchers in the research process. He described the term action research as a process where social scientists worked collaboratively with a group, organisation or community.  This concept was also supported by action science researchers Wallerstein & Duran, 2003 who re-emphasized that the management and workers have equal powers to influence quality improvement. All these history created the platform for a new improved version of action research with active participation of not only the researchers but also the practitioners who has the equal power to bring about the changes. The major weakness of northern tradition that they ignored and oppressed the power of the groups who are the subject of research and gave over emphasis to the knowledge and power of the researcher. 

On the other hand the Southern Tradition which was stemmed from works in Latin America, Africa, and Asia underscored the importance of experiential knowledge to transform society. Social transformation among oppressed groups such as indigenous people, traditional communities and women; the crisis of previous development approaches; search for practical theory; and methods for development led to the application of liberation pedagogy within the context of adult education.

However the liberation pedagogy was criticized by Paulo Freire who developed a theoretical framework, shared the basic premise of adult education, and postulated that adults should have control over the content and form of their education. Freire’s work on conscientisation reinforced the notion that socially marginalised people could be involved in the production of knowledge. His dialogic approach to adult education engaged individuals in critical analysis and organised action to improve their situations.

To conclude I will say that while northern tradition in particular Kurt Lewin laid out the foundation of PR by highlighting the need of equal participation of both researchers and the practitioners in the research process to achieve transformational change, Paulo Freire completed or enriched the concept by highlighting the need of addressing power relations and thereby engaging marginalized groups in the process, empowering them to do the critical analysis and take organised actions to improve their situations. Therefore to me they both played a significant role in the development process of PR. 

Picture of Rahul Kanti Barua
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Rahul Kanti Barua - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 3:46 AM
 
Participatory research heightened people’s awareness about the conflicts and contradictions existing in their situation and the ways to overcome them. They supported grassroots initiatives by women and men from the marginalized communities, to create knowledge about their own problems and share these ideas with other in similar situations (Pant & Thekkudan, 2007).
Northern Tradition and Southern Tradition are the two distinct historical traditions, which have contributed to the evolution of the concept and the practice of participatory research to a great extent.  Northern Tradition represents collaborative utilization focused research with practical goals of system improvement.  Action Research as Northern Tradition actually laid the foundation of participatory research. It reflected a paradigm shift from applied social science research to the participatory approach to applied research, which emphasized the problem solving approach to search and rational decision making by the group, through the intervention of facilitator. Participatory research was greatly influences by the scholarly thoughts of action research referred to as Northern Tradition. Lewin’s work was regarded as a conservative influence on participatory research because it places less emphasis on active community participation and did not challenge existing power relationships.
On the other hand, Southern Tradition openly challenged the historical colonial practices of research and political domination of knowledge by elites. Social transformation among oppressed group such as indigenous people, traditional communities and women; the crisis of previous developmental approaches; search for practical theory; and method for development led to the application of liberation pedagogy within the context of adult education. Paulo Freire is the best known as exponential Liberation pedagogy. He developed the theoretical frameworks, which shared the basic premise of adult education. He was a critic if the authoritarian paradigm of teaching and also critic of positivism. He work on conscientisation reinforces the notion that socially marginalized people could be involved in the production of knowledge.  His dialogic approach to adult education engaged individuals in critical analysis and organized action to improve their situation. He also believed in the power of education as a political tools that raising the consciousness the oppressed people of both local and global levels. He combined the theoretical and practical model for participatory research and inspired scholars and activists to get together with community residents to research, educate and plan for sustainable, community controlled social change project. Marja Liisa Swantz, another early influence in Africa, opined that researched and researcher could become agents of development. Based on the insight adult education encourages contributing their own experience, wisdom, and skills to the research.
In comparing the above two tradition, South tradition is the most important influenced in the growth of participatory research, as because, it involve the oppressed group of people i.e. indigenous people, traditional communities in problem solving and development process for sustainability.  Here community people including marginalized people involve in the production of knowledge, they analyzed their situation and take action for improve the situation. 
Taniya Laizu Sumy, Manager- Curriculum and Material Development, SHIKHON Program, Save the Children
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Taniya Laizu Sumy - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 10:08 AM
 

What is the most important historical influence in the growth of participatory research and why?

Participatory Research is evolved in not in a day. It has a strong historical background. The knowledge is changed based on the demand and trends of society and the research follows the trends of knowledge.

Participatory Research is mainly evolved from the action research which focused on the problem solving approach to research. Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It focuses on the Participation, Action and Research. Participation indicated the life and democracy in society, Action indicates the engagement with experience and history and Research indicates the soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge (Chevalier and Buckles, 2013, ch.1). It can be drawn as per the diagram below:

 Participatory Action Research diagram as attachment. 

When the historical perspectives come to the discussion of Participatory Research, the discussion of two traditions takes the concentration. It unfolds the two distinct historical traditions viz., Northern Tradition and Southern Tradition which have contributed to the evolution of the concept and the practice of PR to a great extent. 

Northern Tradition mainly recites the conception and perception of North America and Europe. It reflected a paradigm shift from applied social science research to the participatory to applied research. Initially it was grounded on the positivist belief which was rejected by Kurt Lewin in 1940s. Primarily the world was treated as objective irrespective of the thinking and perception of the participants. The whole things as planning, action, reflection, problem solving and rational decision were designed and made by the research group. The beneficiaries group and community participation were not much given importance. But gradually the thought has been changed and the participation of different groups were got importance. Furthermore, emphasis drawn in qualitative development. The organizational development as well as social psychology along with community participation got a shape at the end of 20th century in the tradition of Northern part. For this evolution Kurt Lewin had a great influence and he put his knowhow experience for quality improvement of the perception.

Southern Tradition mainly recites the conception and perception of Latin America, Africa and Asia. Southern Tradition openly challenged the historical colonial practices of research and political domination of knowledge by elites. Paulo Freire initiated the innovative and right based perceptions about Participatory Research. He focused on the adult literacy which was really a great difficulties in social development. He focused on the participation of community as well as women who were the significant part of the society and could noteworthy role in societal change. He drew upon Marxism, phenomenology and existentialism. Other social science and psychological facts were also treated as important factors. Based on his perception a balanced approach by combining the participation of community and researchers as well as expertise came to the era of thinking. The bottom up approach came to the light of research rather than problem identifying, thinking and innovating by the elites and so called expertise.

Researchers could think to build harmonization between theory and practice. The researchers groups came under a platform by networking among each other. The international adult literacy movement got a shape in societal positive change. Liberation pedagogy of Paulo Freire, international adult education movements, participatory research network, and participatory action research influenced participatory research in the tradition of southern part.

Now Participatory Research is bounded not only some theories. The new knowledge is being created on this issue day by day. From 90s gender issues are given priority. Knowledge are controlled for social services. The people are got importance and the knowledge is utilized for the evolution of society in global perspective. The research questions are designed based on the beneficiaries’ right rather than need. Now the beneficiaries also part of research conduction to ensure the reliability, validity and applicability. The research group are thinking about education work and social action along with research. Participatory research is not an isolated though and act now a day. It is now a part of social qualitative change maker component.

Analyzing the historical perspectives of Participatory Research it is really difficult to identify most influential factor for the growth of PA. But under the platform of southern tradition Paulo Freire kept his significant role to understand the know-how actually what the participation means. The holistic thinking considering all groups of society could be possible based on his theory. The bottom up approach could be possible for his thinking. The initiation of right base research could be believed instead of need. Now community can raise their voice and can participate consciously. Analyzing all these factors I think the contribution of Paulo Freire and his followers have the most historical influence in the growth of Participatory Research. 

Picture of Abdul Gaffer Mondal
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Abdul Gaffer Mondal - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 9:30 AM
 

Participatory Research is a term, which was first articulated in Tanzania in the early 1970s to describe a verity of community-based approaches to the creation of knowledge. Taken together these approaches combine social investigation, education and action in interrelated process.

 Participatory Research is the product of several terms, including community-based research, action research and participatory action research. Each has its distinct roots, which have grown and intertwined.

The participatory research relationship is collaborative, such that research is with, for, or even by the community. The researcher is simply one partner in the research process. The ideal is one of empowerment of communities. Researchers develop awareness of indigenous understandings and aspirations such that these are primary determinants of the research work and its potential outcomes.

Wallerstein and Minkler refer to two distinct historical traditions, Northern and Southern, to which the more recent concept of PR can be traced. These approaches to research are elsewhere referred to as the Traditional and Radical forms of research.

Kurt Lewin, the social psychologist credited with coining the term “action research” in the 1940s, best represents the Northern, or Traditional, roots. Lewin was an early proponent of the use of scientific data by community leaders, hopeful that improved research facilities at universities would facilitate action research in social change endeavors. He also emphasized the importance of “intergroup relations”—i.e., the relations between researchers, those who are the subjects of their studies, and groups defined by area of expertise.

In 1940s, Action research  (Kurt Lewin) as well as other European social scientists find out the followings:

– Behavior occurs within a historical/social context

– Behavior is determined by the totality of an individual’s situation

– Individuals interact in inter-connected groups as actors as well as authors of their own reality

–A fundamental premise of community-based action research is that it commences with an interest in the problems of a group, a community, or an organization. Its purpose is to assist people in extending their understanding of their situation and thus resolving problems that confront them…. (Stringer, 1999)

The Southern, or Radical, form of action research emanates primarily from the Southern hemisphere, or so-called Third World. The distinguishing characteristic of this tradition is an explicit challenge to the inequitable distribution of political and socioeconomic power. The Southern tradition defies unequal access to, and participation in, the production of knowledge in institutions of higher learning.

In conclusion, it can be say that Northern tradition in particular Kurt Lewin laid out the foundation of Participatory Research but the Southern Tradition influences significantly  to carry forward especially in social investigation of problems, involving meaningful community participation, knowledge management & reflection.  

SSM Hejbullah
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Sheikh Sultan Muhammad Hejbullah - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 11:49 AM
 

Though the participatory research originate through the Northern Tradition by shifting the applied social science to participatory and problem solving approach, but in my opinion, the worldwide Feminist and Anti-Racist Movements has the most important historical influence in growth of Participatory Research.

Feminists have specifically emphasized a need to work with people in a way that empowers them. It was demonstrated by Callaway (1981) that women have been largely excluded from producing the dominant forms of knowledge. She argues that the social sciences have not only been a science of male society. Jackson & Kassam (1998) reiterate this point by claiming that “women are systematically excluded in most societies from knowledge-production processes that are dominated by men - even ones that claim to be participatory”. The continued refusal to see ‘mother work’ as work and ‘feminine’ qualities as valuable, both in the home and in the workplace, has perpetuated the gendered and racial division of labor that devalues women. Concealing the economic importance of the work done mostly by women, also feeds into the predominant Western masculine dichotomies, whether they are Marxist or mainstream. These are the binary oppositions between ‘family’ and ‘work’, between ‘private’ and ‘public’, and between the ‘reproductive’ and the ‘productive’ and feminists even consider child care a form of ‘chore’. (Hart, 1995) In relation to this fact, it is important that women learn to create their own knowledge. Participatory research is one avenue for this to occur.

The feminist and anti-racist perspective starts from the understanding that both gender and race are basic organizing principles in shaping each individual's consciousness and developing skills and abilities in the existent social structures and institutions. It argues for a need to begin with a social analysis that acknowledges the multi-directional nature of power relations and articulating systems of oppression. Issues of power and voice within the research are highlighted. Questions regarding the relationship between the researcher and the researched are highlighted, as is the question of whose voice(s) the research (re)presents.

Feminist and anti-racist Participatory Research can be used as a means of consciousness-raising and empowerment for community organization and development, as well as a tool for women to analyze reproduction, reproductive rights, and women's health in the context of their own lives.

Picture of Mirza Moinul Islam
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Mirza Moinul Islam - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 12:31 PM
 

Participatory research is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection. Participatory action research (PAR) emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history. Historical influence in growth of participatory research is most important because PAR practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge) (Chevalier and Buckles, 2013, ch. 1).

PAR in the 21st century has multiple progenitors and resists definition. Originating with the work of Kurt Lewin (1946) and the Tavistock Institute in the 1940s, PAR is a broad tradition of collective self-experimentation backed up by evidential reasoning, fact-finding and learning. All formulations of PAR have in common the idea that research and action must be done ‘with’ people and not ‘on’ or ‘for’ people (Brock and Pettit, 2007; Chevalier and Buckles, 2008, 2013; Heron, 1995; Kindon et al., 2007; Reason, 1995; Reason and Bradbury, 2008; Swantz, 2008; Whyte, 1991). Kurt Lewin, the social psychologist credited with coining the term “action research” in the 1940s, best represents the Northern, or Traditional, roots. Lewin was an early proponent of the use of scientific data by community leaders, hopeful that improved research facilities at universities would facilitate action research in social change endeavors. He also emphasized the importance of “intergroup relations”—i.e., the relations between researchers, those who are the subjects of their studies, and groups defined by area of expertise.

The Southern, or Radical (Paulo Freire) form of action research emanates primarily from the Southern hemisphere, or so-called Third World. The distinguishing characteristic of this tradition is an explicit challenge to the inequitable distribution of political and socioeconomic power. The Southern tradition defies unequal access to, and participation in, the production of knowledge in institutions of higher learning. Most representative of this tradition is the work of educator Paulo Freire from Brazil, Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals- Borda, and Rajesh Tandon, an engineer from India who now runs the Society for Participatory Research in Asia, out of New Delhi. Their teachings and philosophies share the conviction that social scientists have an important role in the movement for liberation of the poor from exploitation and hierarchical social structures.

Southern Tradition of participatory research has influenced more in social investigation of problems, involving participation of oppressed and ordinary people in problem posing and solving. Although the northern tradition initiated the debate but it was southern who took the challenge and went for the field test. The main goal of PR is for both researcher and participant to develop a critical consciousness. Whether initiated at the request of a community group or researcher, it is very important that the community group or individuals are involved in the research process.

Picture of Md. Nazmul Haque Sardar
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Md. Nazmul Haque Sardar - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 5:16 PM
 

Participatory Research has taken a variety of history since it emerged. Participatory Research emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history. In education, Participatory Research practitioners inspired by the ideas of critical pedagogy and adult education are firmly committed to the politics of emancipatory action formulated by Freire (1970). Participatory Research in the 21st century has multiple progenitors and resists definition. Originating with the work of Kurt Lewin (1946) and the Tavistock Institute in the 1940s, Participatory Research is a broad tradition of collective self-experimentation backed up by evidential reasoning, fact-finding and learning. In the field of development, Participatory Research has drawn considerable inspiration from work of Paulo Freire (1982), new thinking on adult education research (Hall, 1975), the Civil Rights Movement (Horton and Freire, 1990), South Asian social movements such as the Bhoomi Sena (Rahman, 2008, 2011), and key initiatives such as the Participatory Research Network created in 1978 and based in New Delhi. The Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals Borda and others organized the first explicitly Participatory Research conference in Cartagena, Colombia in 1977 (Hall, 2005).  The application of Participatory Research is the work to support, plan, implement and evaluate the activities. Participatory Research as Northern Tradition actually laid the foundation of participatory research. It reflected a paradigm shift from applied social science research to the participatory approach to applied research With support from the research the community members are acting as researchers exploring priority issues affecting their lives, recognising their resources, producing knowledge, and taking action to improve their situation. Southern Tradition openly challenged the historical colonial practices of research and political domination of knowledge by elites. The ongoing Participatory Research process of reflection and action, which incorporates participant observation, informal discussions, in‐depth interviews, and a “feedback box”, is viewed by the participants as contributing to their self reported increased sense of self awareness, self confidence, and hope for the future. The knowledgeable persons controlled the knowledge “production system” to maintain status and make people dependent on them for all services and resources. These started to change as the work of Freire spreading to many countries. For academics, dilemmas arise in the use of Participatory Research because it is time consuming and unpredictable, unlikely to lead to a high production of articles in refereed journals and its somewhat “messy” nature means it is less likely to attract competitive research funding.  Acceptance of Participatory Research as a legitimate research methodology will require change from public health journals, funding bodies, and universities in the way that they judge research performance. For instance most public health academic units assess their academic researchers' suitability for promotion according to the number of peer reviewed journal articles. The ability of a researcher to engage with communities and bring about real change to their quality of life and health status rarely counts. The global research community is already being urged to adapt its grant assessment methods and its assessment of research performance to ensure that the engaged processes typical of Participatory Research are valued and encouraged. Participatory Research also requires health researchers to work in close partnership with civil society and health policy makers and practitioners. To conclude, it could be said that Northern Tradition actually laid the foundation of Participatory Research.

Picture of Masudur Rahman
Re: Question to be answered - Unit 2
by Masudur Rahman - Sunday, 24 August 2014, 6:12 PM
 

What, in your opinion, is the most important historical influence in the growth of participatory research and why?

 Participatory research emerged as a critique to dominant social science research, with the main objective to produce new knowledge or synthesize existing knowledge. As L. David Brown – PR is all leading to people centered development and it highlights local problems, facilitates collective action and attitudinal change among the poor and assists in building local peoples organizations.

 The growth of Participatory Research: shifting from applied social science research to participatory research

 Participatory research was greatly influenced by the scholarly thoughts of action research referred to as Northern Tradition. Kurt Lewin, a German social psychologist, promoted 'action research', thereby underscoring the need for new types of research for social transformation.  In the 1940s, Kurt Lewin rejected the positivist belief that researchers study an objective world, separate from meanings understood by the participants as they act in the world. He coined the term action research and challenged the gap between theory and practice and sought to solve the practical problems through a research cycle involving planning, action, reflection, problem solving and rational decision making for new actions. to describe a process where social scientists worked collaboratively with a group, organisation or community.

 In the 1970s, critiques of the positivist research paradigm, led scholars to seek a new approach to social change rooted in grassroots reality. They adopted Lewin's concept and method of problem solving and developed explicitly critical and emancipated action research methods, to bring together the voice of all stakeholders.

 Northern Tradition reflected a paradigm shift from applied social science research to the participatory approach to applied research, which emphasised the problem solving approach to research and rational decision making by the group, through the intervention of the facilitator. Southern Tradition stemmed from works in Latin America, Africa, and Asia which underscored the importance of experiential knowledge to transform society. Theoretical framework of Paulo Freire reinforced the notion that socially marginalised people could be involved in the production of knowledge.

By this time different epistemological debates also continuing with the critique of so called knowledge and that helps to emerge a different look of dominant research methodology. The concept of ‘Women as Other’ by Simone de Beauvoir, the feminist critique of dominant research has also the effect of reconstructing the dominant research paradigm.  Feminist researcher have generally accepted the principle that the only appropriate form of research to do with women, is that which has the empowerment of women as an integral part of process; and when they themselves have joined in that process, their own learning has been greatly enhanced.

 In the mean time, participatory action research concept emerged independently within both the Northern and Southern Traditions and is characterized by research, educational work, and social action. Fals-Borda preferred the use of the term action research, but some time later, perhaps through interaction with the Latin American network of participatory research, he began to refer to this kind of work as 'participatory action research'.

 To me, historically, evolve of Southern Tradition is the main influence a lot to emerge the Participatory Research. Before this the traditional ‘knowledge elites’ control over knowledge production systems was thus being used by the development elite to preserve the ‘status quo’ and make people dependent on the government and the elite section of society for all resources and services, including knowledge. Though by this time Northern tradition also tries to increase some participatory methods in research but they did not fully broke the so called elite knowledge system.

 There is also a debate on Participatory Research, PR is mainly done by academicians though they have the talent and inclination and on the other hand grassroots people tend to be anti-intellectual, and that intellectuals in universities generally get their views form more patently scholarly work.