People's Knowledge and Participatory Action Research
Escaping the white-walled labyrinth
People’s Knowledge and Participatory Action Research opens up a new realm of understanding, one that has been created by authors who are mainly non-academics, and who bring their own perspectives on the production and validation of knowledge. The book attempts to address some of the tensions between traditional and more participatory approaches to research by exploring three questions: What kinds of oppression can take place when people who experience exclusion work with professional researchers? How can knowledge be truly co-produced in a spirit of mutual learning and respect? What are the most promising approaches to build future alliances for creating a ‘people's knowledge’ that treats equally the professional researcher and those whose expertise comes from their life experience?
The book ends with some signposts for transforming participatory and action-orientated approaches to research in order to achieve social and environmental justice.
This book should be read by all those interested in research for social and environmental justice in general, and participatory and action approaches to research in particular, including in the fields of: community development; health and medicine; international development; education; local and national government; anti-racism; human rights; women’s studies; citizen science; and community arts.
The Reclaiming Diversity and Citizenship Series seeks to encourage debate outside mainstream policy and conceptual frameworks on the future of food, farming, land use and human well-being. The opportunities and constraints to regenerating local food systems and economies based on social and ecological diversity, justice, human rights, inclusive democracy, and active forms of citizenship are explored in this book series. Contributors to the Reclaiming Diversity and Citizenship Series are encouraged to reflect deeply on their ways of working and outcomes of their research, highlighting implications for policy, knowledge, organizations, and practice.
‘People's knowledge and participatory action research offers a radical exploration of the deep knowledge held within communities under siege by neoliberalism and traditional forms of science; the dedicated refusal to surrender this knowledge to the hegemonic gaze of "experts", grip of white supremacy or bribes of corporate interests, and the joy and delicacies of engaging in participatory research for justice. A must-read for community-based researchers and even more so for academics deluded by fantasies of expertise. Congratulations!’
Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies and Urban Education, City University of New York.
‘This book is an important contribution to helping all of us -- academics and grassroots-led researchers -- to think through what it means to collaborate. Clearly written and with both practical wisdom and theoretical reach, it is a book to get some useful conversations started.’
Professor Keri Facer, University of Bristol
‘Given the pressing environmental and social justice issues facing society today, research should be moving towards a co-production of knowledge with communities. However, too often it is questionable whether it is, or whether there continues to be a top down process of knowledge dissemination to the public from the “white walls” of the academy. Through writing, reflection, poetry and the visual arts, this book draws out these issues -- political, ethical, and social -- and provides an important platform for people outside these walls from which to speak about their collaborative knowledge production practices.’
Jacqueline Vadjunec, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Oklahoma State University
‘This engrossing and timely collection exposes the weaknesses of conventional academic research. The authors outline a new approach for action research, taking us in a direction that will help heal the many divisions in our fractured world. Anyone involved in research, whether in universities, community organizations or governments, should read it. I loved the fresh voices on gender and race. We should all write letters to our younger action researcher selves acknowledging how colonized we have been. When we liberate ourselves we liberate those with whom we partner. This would be a great deal.’
Hilary Bradbury, Editor of Handbook of Action Research and Action Research Journal.