Participatory Action Methods
Yet these two approaches are rarely discussed in relation to one another, nor, has much been written in terms of how these two approaches may work synergistically toward a decolonizing research approach.
Most health research involves people, even if only as passive participants, as “subjects” or “respondents”. PAR advocates that those being researched should be involved in the process actively. The degree to which this is possible in health research will differ as will the willingness of people to be involved in research. Research methodology is a strategy or plan of action that shapes our choice and use of methods and links them to the desired outcomes.
Stakeholders are needed to ensure that the “outside” research professionals do not misconstrue or render meaningless information sought or collected due to their lack of first hand knowledge of the situation (or due to not being “members” of the socio-cultural group). Stakeholder presence in the research process also ensures that the resulting actions steps are “owned” by the stakeholders, that there is “greater consensus for change” (Walton & Gaffney, 1991). Found frequently in third world development efforts, participatory research is seen as a liberating process for stakeholders (Rogers, 1994).
Elden, M. & Levin, M. (1991). Cogenerative learning. In: Participatory Action Research, Whyte, W.F. (Ed.). Newbury Park, CA: age Publications.
Fenton, J., Batavia, A., and Roody, D. (1993). Proposed Policy Statement on Constituency-Oriented Research and Dissemination. Washington, DC, DOE/NIDRR.
McTaggert, R. (1991). Principles for participatory action research. Adult Education Quarterly, 41(3), 168-187.
Rogers, E.S. & Palmer-Erbs, V. (1994). Participatory Action Research: Implications for research and evaluation in psychiatric rehabilitation. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, 18(2), 3-12.