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Reading #2: Participatory Action Research

Reading #2: Participatory Action Research

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P A R T IC IP A T O R Y
A C T IO N
R E S E A R C H
C o m m u n ic a tiv e A c tio n
a n d th e P u b lic S p h e re
S tephen K em m isa n dR o b in M cT aggart
7
a rtic ip a to ry
a c tio n
re s e a rc h
h a s
a n
e x te n s iv e h is to ry in m a n y fie ld s of s o c ia l
-
p ra c tic e . O u r a im
in this chapter is to
rt-:s lo p
the view of participatory action research
~ th a sshaped our ow n theory and practice dur-
Irecent years.We begin w ith a short overview

:h e e v o lu tio n o f o u r o w n th in k in g a n d th ein flu - of several generations of action research. In :h a p te r o n " P a rtic ip a to ry A c tio n R e se a rc h " fo r e c o n d e d itio no fth is H andbook, w e id e n tifie d ral key

approaches to
a c tio n
research, the
a n d s e ttin g s w h e re th e y a re m o s t fre q u e n tly
,several criticism s that have been advanced
each, and
k e y
s o u rc e s
t o
e x p lo re
th e m
nm is&
M cTaggart,2 0 0 0 ). The approaches
tifie d w e re a s o m e w h a t e c le c tic m ix -p a rtic -
) r y
re s e a rc h ,
c la s s r o o m
a c tio n
re s e a rc h ,
In
le a rn in g , a c tio n
science, soft
system s
oaches, and
in d u s tria l a c tio n

research. We m arize those approaches again here but do .e ite ra te o u r v ie w s of th e m in th is c h a p te r. W e low ledge the influence of each approach on

th e field a n d as stim u lu s to reflection o n o u r ow n
ideas and practices.
F o r
our current
purposes, we
p ro c e e d

to develop a com prehensive view of social practice and reflect on aspects of our ow n w ork that we t e r m

" m y th s, m is in te rp re ta tio n s , a n d
;is ta k e s "

to m o v e to w a rd re c o n c e p tu a liz in g re s e a rc h itse lf as a social practice. T hinking about research as a s o c ia l p ra c tic e le a d s u s to a n

e x p lo ra tio n
o f

H aberm as's notion of the public sphere as a way of e x te n d in g th e th e o ry a n d p ra c tic e o f a c tio n research.W e hope that this argum ent show s m ore clearly how participatory action research differs fro m

o th e r fo rm s o f so c ia l in q u iry , in te g ra tin g
m o re
c le a rly
its political
a n d

m e th o d o lo g ic a l in te n tio n s . W e a n tic ip a te th a t th is a rg u m e n t w ill p ro v id e d ire c tio n fo r a n e w g e n e ra tio n o f p a rtic i- patory action research, and we trust that it w ill s tre n g th e n th e th e o ry a n d p ra c tic e of p a rtic ip a - tory action research in the m any fields and set- tin g s th a t d ra w o n its in te lle c tu a lly a n d m o ra lly rich traditions, ideas,and challenges.

5 6 0
g
H A N D B O O K O F Q U A L IT A T IV E R E S E A R C H -C H A P T E R
2 3
T H EF A M IL Y
O FA C T IO NR E S E A R C H
A c tio n re s e a rc h b e g a n w ith a n id e a a ttrib u te d to
social psychologist

K urt Lew in. It first found expression in the w ork of the Tavistock Institute o f

H um an
R e la tio n s
i n
th e
U n ite d
K in g d o m
(R a p a p o rt,1 9 7 0 ) ,w h e r e L e w in h a d v is ite di n 1 9 3 3
a n d
1 9 3 6 a n d h a d m a in ta in e d
contact for m any
y e a r s . L e w in 's
(1946, 1952) ow n earliest publica-
tio n s
o n
a c tio n
re s e a rc h
re la te d
to

c o m m u n ity a c tio n p ro g ra m s in th e U n ite d S ta te s d u rin g th e 1 9 4 0 s. H o w ev er, it is w o rth n o tin g th a t A ltric h te r a n d G s te ttn e r (1 9 9 7 ) a rg u e d th a t th e re w e re e a rlie r, m ore "actionist" approaches to action research in c o m m u n ity

d e v e lo p m e n t
p ra c tic e d
b y
H .
G .

M o re n o , fo r e x a m p le , w o rk in g w ith p ro s titu te s in V ie n n a a t th etu rn -o f th e 2 0 th c e n tu ry .N e v e rth e le ss, it was Lewin's work and reputation that gave im pe- tus to the action research m ovem ents in m any dif- fe re n t d is c ip lin e s . S te p h e n C o re y in itia te d a c tio n re s e a rc h in e d u c a tio n in th e U n ite d S ta te s s o o n a fte r Lewin's w ork w as published (Corey, 1949, 1953). H ow ever, efforts to reinterpret and justify

a c tio n
research in te rm s of th e prevailing p o sitiv istic id e-
o lo g y in
th e
U n ite d
States led
t o
a
tem porary
d e c lin e in its d e v e lo p m e n t th e re (K e m m is , 1 9 8 1 ).
A second generation of action research, build-
ing on a B ritish tradition
of action research in
o rg a n iz a tio n a l
d e v e lo p m e n t
c h a m p io n e d
b y

researchers at the Tavistock Institute (R apaport, 1 9 7 0 ), b e g a n in B rita in w ith th e F o rd T e a c h in g P ro je c t d ire c te d b y J o h n E llio tt a n d C le mA d e lm a n (E llio tt

&
A d e lm a n ,
1 9 7 3 ).
R e c o g n itio n
in

A ustralia of the"practica1"character ofthe British in itiativ e led to calls for m o re ex p licitly "critical" a n d

"em ancipatory"
a c tio n
re s e a rc h

(C arr& K em m is, 1986).T he critical im pulse in A ustralian action research w as paralleled by sim ilar advoca- cies in Europe (Brock-U tne, 1980).These advoca- cies and efforts for their realization w ere called the third generation of action research.Afo u rth generation of action research em erged in the con- n e c tio n

b e tw e e n
c ritic a l e m a n c ip a to ry
a c tio n
re s e a rc h
a n d
p a rtic ip a to ry a c tio n
re s e a rc h
th a t

had developed in th e context of social m ovem ents in th e d e v e lo p in g w o rld , c h a m p io n e d b y p e o p le such as Paulo Freire, Orlando Fals Borda, Rajesh

T a n d o n , A n is u r R a h m a n , a n d M a rja -L iis a S w a n tz as w ell as by N orth A m erican an d B ritish w orkers in a d u lt e d u c a tio n a n d lite ra c y , c o m m u n ity d e v e l- opm ent, and developm ent studies such as Budd Hall, M yles H orton, Robert Cham bers, and John Gaventa. Two key them es were (a) the develop- m ent of theoretical argum ents form o re " a c tio n is t" approaches to action research and (b) the need for p a rtic ip a to ry

a c tio n
re s e a rc h e rs
t o
m ake
lin k s
w ith broad social m ovem ents.
Participatory R esearch

P a rtic ip a to ry re s e a rc h is a n a lte rn a tiv e p h ilo s o - phy of social research (and social life[v iv k n c ia ]) o fte n

a s s o c ia te d
w ith
social transform ation

in th e T h ird W o rld . It h a s ro o ts in lib e ra tio n th e o lo g y and neo-M arxist approaches to com m unity devel- opm ent(e .g ., in L a tin A m e ric a ) b u t a ls o h a s r a th e r lib e ra l o rig in s in h u m a n rig h ts a c tiv is m

(e.g ., in A sia).Three particular attributes are often used to distinguish participatory research from

c o n v e n -
tional research:
s h a r e d
ow nership
o f
re s e a rc h
projects, com m unity-based
a n a ly s is
o f
s o c ia l

p ro b le m s, a n d a n o rie n ta tio n to w a rd c o m m u n ity a c tio n . G iv e n its c o m m itm e n t to s o c ia l, e c o n o m ic , a n d p o litic a l d e v e lo p m e n t re s p o n s iv e to th e n e e d s and opinions of ordinary people, proponents of p a rtic ip a to ry re s e a rc h h a v e h ig h lig h te d th e p o litic s of conventionalsocial research,arguing that ortho- d o x s o c ia l s c ie n c e , d e s p ite its c la im to v a lu e n e u - tra lity , n o rm a lly se rv e s th e id e o lo g ic a l fu n c tio n of justifying th e p o sitio n a n d interests of th e w ealthy a n d

p o w e rfu l
( F a ls
B o rd a
&
R ahm an,
1 9 9 1 ;
F o re s te r,
P itt,
&
W elsh,
1 9 9 3 ;
F r e ir e ,
1 9 8 2 ;
G reenw ood&L e v in , 2 0 0 0 , 2 0 0 1 ; H a ll, G ille tte ,&
T a n d o n ,
1 9 8 2 ; H o rto n ,
K o h l,
&
K o h l,
1 9 9 0 ;
M c G u ire , 1 9 8 7 ; M c T a g g a rt, 1 9 9 7 ; O liv e ira& D a rc y ,
1 9 7 5 ; P a rk , B ry d o n -M ille r, H a ll,&Jackson, 1993).
C ritic a l A c tio n R e s e a rc h
C riticalaction research expresses a com m itm ent
to b rin g to g e th e r b ro a d s o c ia l a n a ly sis-th e
s e lf -

re fle c tiv e c o lle c tiv e s e lf-s tu d y o f p ra c tic e , th e w a yi n w h ic h la n g u a g e is u s e d , o rg a n iz a tio n a n d p o w e ri n a lo c a l s itu a tio n , a n d

a c tio n
to
im p ro v e th in g s .
_ -
Kem m is& M cTaggart:Participatory Action Research
rn
5 6 1
-::ial
action research is strongly represented in
.
..
:
.
:
t
.:teratures of educational action research, and
2 :r?
it em erges from dissatisfactions w ith class-
::? m
z c tio n re s e a rc h th a t ty p ic a lly d o e s n o t ta k e a
?:?ad
v ie w o f th e ro le o f th e re la tio n s h ip b e tw e e n
= -.:-
- .:- c a tio n
and social change. It has a strong com -
- r f
. . .:.g en t to participation as w ell as to the social

~ 2 1 y s e si n th e c ritic a l so c ia l s c ie n c e tra d itio n th a t r21-ealth e d is e m p o w e rm e n t a n d in ju s tic e c re a te d in kdustrialized societies.D uring recent tim es, criti- :a1

a c tio n
research has also attempted
to
ta k e
;;c o u n t

of d is a d v a n ta g e a ttrib u ta b le to g e n d e r a n d x h n i c i t y a s w e ll a s to s o c ia l c la s s , its in itia l p o in t o f reference (C arr&K em m is, 1986;Fay, 1987; H enry, 1991; K em m is, 1991; M arika, N gurruw utthun,& ib\hite,1 992;M cTaggart,1991a,1991b, 1997;Zuber- S k e rritt, 1 9 9 6 ).

C lassroom A ction Research
in t~
1 9 !
te a
e m
tio
a c t
C lassroom
a c tio n re s e a rc h ty p ic a lly in v o lv e s
:h e
u s e
o f
q u a lita tiv e
in te rp re tiv e
m odes
o f
In q u iry
a n d
d a ta
c o lle c tio n by
te a c h e rs
( o f te n

w ith h e lp fro m a c a d e m ic s ) w ith a v ie w to te a c h e rs m a k in g ju d g m e n ts a b o u t h o w to im p ro v e th e ir ow n practices. The practice of classroom

a c tio n research has along tradition but has sw ung in and o u t o f fa v o r, p rin c ip a lly b e c a u s e th e th e o re tic a l w o rk th a t ju s tifie d it la g g e d b e h in d th e p ro g re s - siv e e d u c a tio n a l m o v e m e n ts

that breathed
lif e

o it at certain historical m om ents (M cT aggart, ) l a ; N o ffk e , 1 9 9 0 , 1 9 9 7 ). P rim a c y is g iv e n to chers'self-understandings and judgm ents. T he phasis is "practical:'

th a t is, o n th ein te rp re ta - ns that teachers and students are m aking and ing on in the situation. In other words, class-

room action research is not just practical idealis-
tically, in
a
u to p ia n
way, or just
about how
in te rp re ta tio n s m ig h t b e d ifferen tN inth eo ry "; it is

Iso practical in A ristotle's sense of practical rea- o n in g a b o u t h o w to a c t rig h tly a n d p ro p e rly in a itu a tio n w ith w h ic h o n e is c o n fro n te d . If u n iv e r- sity researchers are involved,their role is a service role to the teachers. Such university researchers are often advocates for "teachers' know ledge" an d

y disavow or seek to dim inish the relevance
m ore theoretical discourses
s u c h a s c ritic a l
th e o ry (D a d d s , 1 9 9 5 ; E llio tt, 1 9 7 6 -1 9 7 7 ; S a g o r,
1992;Stenhouse, 1975;W einer, 1989).
A c tio n L e a r n in g
A c tio n
le a rn in g
has its origins in
th e
w ork
of advocate
R eg
Revans, w ho
s a w

tra d itio n a l approaches to m anagem ent inquiry as unhelpful in so lv in g th e p ro b le m s o f o rg a n iz a tio n s .R e v a n s 's early w ork w ith colliery m anagers attem pting to im prove w orkplace safety m arks a significant tu rn - in g p o in t fo r th e ro le of p ro fe sso rs, e n g a g in g th e m d ire c tly in m a n a g e m e n t p ro b le m s in o rg a n iz a tio n s .

T h e fu n d a m e n ta l id e a o f a c tio n le a rn in g is to b rin g p e o p le to g e th e r to le a rn fro m e a c h o th e r's e x p e r i e n c e s . T h e r e i s e m p h a s i s o n s t u d y i n g o n e 's o w n s itu a tio n , c la rify in g w h a t th e o rg a n iz a tio n is trying to achieve, and w orking to rem ove obsta- cles. Key aspirations are organizational efficacy and efficiency,although advocates of action learn- in g a ffirm th e m o ra l p u rp o s e a n d c o n te n t of th e ir ow n

w ork
a n d
of the
managers they
s e e k
to
engage in the process (C lark, 1972; Pedler, 1991;
R e v a n s, 1 9 8 0 ,1 9 8 2 ).
A c tio n S c ie n c e

A ction science em phasizes the study of prac- tic e in o rg a n iz a tio n a l s e ttin g s a sasource of new u n d e rs ta n d in g s a n d im p ro v e d p ra c tic e . T h e fie ld o f a c tio n s c ie n c e s y s te m a tic a lly b u ild s th e re la - tio n s h ip b e tw e e n

academ ic organizational psy-
c h o lo g y
a n d
p ra c tic a l
p ro b le m s
a s
th e y
a r e
e x p e rie n c e d
in
o rg a n iz a tio n s . It id e n tifie s
tw o

aspects of professional know ledge: (a) the form al k n o w le d g e th a t a ll c o m p e te n t m e m b e r s o f th e p ro fe ssio n a re th o u g h t to s h a re a n d in to w h ic h professionals are inducted

d u rin g th e ir in itia l
tra in in g a n d
(b ) the professional know ledge of
in te rp re ta tio n
a n d
e n a c tm e n t. A
d is tin c tio n
is

also m ade between the professional's "espoused theory" and "theories in use:' and "gaps" betw een these are used as points of reference for change.A key factor in analyzing these gaps betw een theory a n d p ra c tic e is h e lp in g th e p ro fe s s io n a l to u n m a s k the "cover-ups" that are put in place, especially w h e n p a rtic ip a n ts a re fe e lin g a n x io u s o r th re a t- ened. The approach aspires to the developm ent of

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