This workshop introduces Participatory Action Research (PAR). PAR is a research approach with which researchers not only aim to understand societal issues but also wish to contribute to social change. Since long, the research approach has been applied in the global South (developing countries). Increasingly however, the approach becomes relevant and useful for the global North.
PAR-based studies are participatory in their approach, i.e. they are designed and conducted in close collaboration with participants of the research population and other relevant societal stakeholders. Simultaneously, PAR also allows an in-depth understanding of the societal context as well as of the persistency of the problems through being closely involved in addressing these.
Often the aim of these studies is to rethink and reinterpret complex issues, synthesize different types of knowledge, and collectively develop new hypotheses and solutions. Researchers that use this approach aim their research questions and methodology to remain attuned to the real situation and experience of the research population, thereby providing points for further action.
The workshop consists of a combination of presentations and discussions. It covers the following issues:
- Historical development of Participatory Action Research (PAR)
- Methodological and epistemological background
- Discussion of degrees of participation and application of PAR in different parts of the research cycle
- Relevance of PAR for developing scientific insights and knowledge
- Several examples of PAR in practice, based on projects in both the global South and global North
- Reflection on how your PhD research could adopt a participatory approach
- Future developments and challenges
After completing the workshop, participants will:
- Understand the historical development of PAR
- Understand why and for which research purposes PAR is useful
- Have a solid idea of the various ways in which PAR may be conducted
- Have reflected whether PAR could possibly be adopted in their own PhD research, and if so, where in the research cycle
This workshop is designed for those with no or limited experience with PAR.
Inge Hutter is rector of the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is also professor of participatory and qualitative research in population and development. Before joining ISS, she was professor of demography, vice research dean (2005-08) and dean (2011-15) at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen.
As a demographer and cultural anthropologist she conducted research on population and health (reproductive and sexual health, nutrition, ageing) and development in India, Cameron and Malawi. Professor Hutter has supervised PhD research in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, and the Northern Netherlands. In her research, she adopts a participatory approach by involving societal stakeholders from the very beginning of a research project. This ensures that the research not only leads to scientific publications but also to societal relevant policies and actions.
Together with Monique Hennink (Emory University, Atlanta) and Ajay Bailey (University of Groningen) Professor Hutter wrote the book Qualitative Research Methods (2011) which is widely used within several academic disciplines all over the world. A second edition is in print, which will contain a new chapter on a community based participatory approach to qualitative research.
Derk Loorbach is professor of socio-economic transitions and director of the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). DRIFT is an interdisciplinary institute that combines innovative research with close cooperation with policy-makers and businesses to further sustainable development.
Professor Loorbach was amongst the first researchers to develop the concept and approach of transition management. Central theme in his research is the development of a framework that structures transitions in management activities and processes. Transition management is a new governance-model aimed at facilitating and directing societal change towards sustainability. It is a form of participatory governance, which basic elements are envisioning, scenario development, shared agenda setting and experimenting. Its framework is developed through constant interaction between theory development and practical application in diverse social settings.
Part of this research is the so-called transition arena: a small network of selected innovators that reframe complex societal issues and develop alternative strategies. The objective is to lay the foundations for a much broader governance process. Professor Loorbach has been involved as researcher, facilitator, analyst and organizer of these arenas.