Participatory Action Research
A research approach where researchers and participants work together to identify an issue, collect data, conduct analysis and take action together. Researchers may be internal or external
Ownership, input and the benefits of research are often unequally distributed, with “researcher” being a title of privilege accorded to some and not others.
Participatory action research is a research approach where a group of researchers and participants work together to identify an issue, collect data, conduct analysis and take action together. The researchers may be internal or external to Transition.
PAR comprises a well established set of principles (many of which fit well with those outlined at Level 2 of this pattern language) and practices. It prioritises inclusion, equality, dialogue and action. It is therefore often used alongside or as research as activism.
PAR has become popular in recent years with academic as well as community researchers. Some of its uses do not adhere to the principles and processes embodied by those who inspired it (e.g. Paolo Freire, Orlando Fals-Border). Radical/liberatory practices of PAR are most likely to result in research which furthers the goals of Transition and avoided the pitfalls of past engagements with researchers.
However, there are likely to be occasions where full collaboration is not desired or appropriate - see an agreed level of collaboration.
Participatory action research provides an established framework for more equal, radical and liberatory research engagements that forefront the core principles, whether research is based inside or outside Transition.
Kindon S, Pain R and Kesby M (2007) Connecting People, Participation and Place: Participatory Action Research Approaches and Methods Routledge
Armstrong, A. Banks, S. (2011) Co-inquiry Toolkit, Beacon North East/National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (available at http://www.dur.ac.uk/beacon/socialjustice/publications/participatory)
Pain R, Whitman G, Milledge D and Lune Rivers Trust (2012) Participatory Action Research Toolkit: an introduction to using PAR as an approach to learning, research and action. (available at http://www.dur.ac.uk/beacon/socialjustice/researchprojects/adaptive_strategies/)
Centre for Social Justice and Community Action and National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (2012) Community-based Participatory Research: A Guide to Ethical Principles and Practices Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Durham University. Available at:
The journal PLA Notes is a useful and easily accessible set of resources, especially good for current case studies and practical examples of methods.