Participatory research is an approach to community education that involves local people in defining and analyzing their own problems, and then taking action to change them. While people have been doing this for thousands of years, this particular approach arose out of efforts in East Africa in the 1970s when development workers realized that people learn more, solve problems more efficiently, and feel a greater sense of power when they actively participate in research and action projects - not passively, as in the traditional development model. Participatory research grew out of this goal, namely to make everybody researchers and development workers.
Since that time participatory research has been used and the concept refined, through Africa, Asia and Latin America and more recently in Europe and North America. While the nature of these activities varies greatly from case to case, all share the same broad goals: to involve local (usually marginalized) people in the creation and analysis of their own knowledge, and in the implementation of actions that they design to change their situation. in doing so, participatory research aims to empower people, improve the quality of their lives in some concrete way, and work toward long-term structural change.
The Center for Community Education and Action, Inc. (CCEA) in Northampton, MA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting participatory research in the US, as the Participatory Research Network (PRIA) has done in India and the Participatory Research Group has done in Canada. As part of its work CCEA maintains a resource center of articles, monographs, audio and video tapes relevant to participatory research, many of which appear in this bibliography.
As part of ts mission to support scholars and practitioners in the field, CCEA in collaboration with the Center for International Education at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, assembled a group of students and scholars to compile and annotate this bibliography. Yet organizing it was not easy. Because participatory research combines liberatory epistemology, methodology, and pedagogy, it occupies a space in alternative paradigm research in which knowledge is created in the service of people for emancipatory purposes. As such it shares its borders with critical theory, action research, and popular education. This circumstance presents difficulties in defining the proper concerns of participatory research. In facing these difficulties we have probably made errors of both omission and commission; we may have left out references judged to be too remote that should have been different theoretical and methodological aspects of participatory research in languages other than English that could have been included here.
Center for Community Education and Action, Inc.