Publication Date



Doing Participatory Research does not begin with a pretentious clarion call to action but with a personal narrative enclosing the sharp edge of her critique of male chauvinism in participatory research. As graduate students, we often see the inconsistencies in the theories and practices of the current generation of respected scholars and activists, but we rarely find the courage to own these criticisms fully. In Pat's case, she was astonished that the great "men" of participatory research could simply ignore women's voices while claiming universalist and humane values and liberationalist practices. She simply saw with a clear feminist eye that the participatory research, at that time, was just business as usual. Seeing this so clearly and weighing the implications of confronting so many established people in the field gave her the kind of bout of self-questioning that all committed graduate students experience at critical moments. But, characteristically, Pat forged ahead with her critique and forever changed the face of action research. She wrote a book that has given a generation of readers a model of afairer, more ethical, and expert form of social research. Her practice is theoretically informed, politically alert, personally coherent, and the issues she deals with are among the most difficult in our society: violence against women. Because of the way Pat elected to write this book, a new reader is not likely to realize the scope of Pat's project. At the time she wrote it, located and self-referential narratives were neither popular nor professionally acceptable. We were unaware of the notion of "voice" (other than the passive voice). So, without models to build on, she reformulated social science practice to match her feminist commitments and did so by linking feminism and action research into a single, though multi-faceted, practice wound into elements of personal narrative. She did this not by telling the reader how smart and how well read she is, though I have had the good luck to get to know her personally and to know that she is a consummate scholar. Instead, she tells a story, hooks the reader to her problem by giving an effective voice to her own concerns as a feminist scholar and her desire to be honest and decent to the collaborators in her project. And like all good stories, this one has a moral: no more male business as usual in the social sciences if we want to live up to our typically pretentious assertions that the social sciences, and particularly action research, are of value to society at large. Because she does not use the conventional apparatus of drums and trumpets at the beginning, massive literature reviews in the second chapter, and obscurantist jargonizing, the story simply imprints itself on the reader's consciousness and invokes a dialogue between her research/action practice and the reader's. This is wonderful pedagogy in action and its impact on so many readers is no accident. Feminist action research is not just conventional social research with some added dimensions; it is a rejection of business as usual and the adoption of new forms of narrative to convey its rejection of the past.