The Reading Room Event :even Further reflections’Community Participative Action Research Project’

At the risk of boring everyone even myself, I must post this further analysis and reflection on the Reading Room Event.

When I exhibited the leaflets, flyers and posters at the Interim Show I had to describe the medium for the work….I struggled with this and then  composed this phrase

‘Community Participative Action Research Project’ ( sic ) as I felt it described what I had done to some extent.

  •  I had worked with a community
  • The community were involved through participation
  • The project involved me performing ‘actions’, witnessing and analysing the actions of others and provoking actions within the community
  • I has employed this method of researching this part of my MA
  • I was also researching and analysing this methodology for researching for the MA
  •  It was a medium- term project (something I was doing before doing something else) – though ‘finishing’ with a single event

However, I decide to ‘Google’ this description before I asked for it to be printed on the exhibition labels….. just to see if the description had been used before…..

This is what I found…….There was a Wiki description of PAR,( below) which apparently already existed before I coined the phrase….always best to check!

If I’m honest , although I think my work fits the general description of PAR when it comes to the tenets it falls short.

In the end I did this work for me , so there was a high degree of Artistic Autonomy rather than agency  in the community involvement and to some extent, although I was interested in their comments and their thoughts I was to some extent ‘using them’ for my own work.

They had not invited me there and although I contributed by paying rent on the Reading Room I may not have given them anything back.

I cannot assume that what I did was ‘good ‘for the community.

After all it was my research for my project. So questions of authenticity arise.

I was authentic, I hope ,in the conversations I had with the community about why I was there and why I was interested i.e the contrast between the Reading Room and RAF Croughton and the comparisons of the technologies ’embodied with them’.

But I did not highlight my concerns over fro e.g. drone strikes.

What is interesting is how MY thoughts came to change during the time that I was working there…

How I saw the people at RAF Croughton was individuals rather than as a ‘group’.

Some of this was due to the individuals I met there and also through other independent freelance tuition work which I’d been                                                                                            doing in the area with a family who had connections with the base.

I’ve underlined the tenets that do apply, to a greater or lesser extent but actually as far as community participation in the true sense of the word, they did participate by coming to the event…. ( a few of them) and by allowing me to film etc but this is not real participation and certainly not true .collaboration

 It was more me that participated in their world.

Anyway, this below may be useful and also this link to FORUM: Qualitative Social Research, a Journal article which describes more about Participatory Research as a methodology.

It is very interesting and I’ll have to consider it in detail if I decide to continue with this methodology, so I really know what it is that I am doing…...

I guess what’s also interesting for me is the fact that this research as my practice actually became part of my research for the Research Paper.

For me they are one and the same…almost indistinguishable….except that the written paper is in a textual and ‘formal medium…whereas any work I have produced and may produce in the future is just in a different medium.


Forum for Qualitative Social Research

Participatory action research (PAR) is an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. It seeks to understand the world by trying to change it, collaboratively and following reflection. PAR emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history. Within a PAR process, “communities of inquiry and action evolve and address questions and issues that are significant for those who participate as co-researchers”.[1] PAR contrasts with many research methods, which emphasize disinterested researchers and reproducibility of findings.

PAR practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge).[2] “Action unites, organically, with research” and collective processes of self-investigation.[3]

The way each component is actually understood and the relative emphasis it receives varies nonetheless from one PAR theory and practice to another. This means that PAR is not a monolithic body of ideas and methods but rather a pluralistic orientation to knowledge making and social change.[4][5][6]16 Tenets of Participatory Action Research

Robin McTaggart (1989)

The 16 tenets of Participatory Action Research outlined in this short note were presented to the 3er Encuentro Mundial Investigacion Participatva (The Third World Encounter on Participatory Research), Managua, Nicaragua, September 3 – 9, 1989. They represent an important reflection and distillation of the praxis of participatory action research, by one of its leading practitioners, during the 1980s. The Caledonia Centre for Social Development, as part of its on-going work in the field of participatory development, wishes to make these tenets accessible to a new generation of social activists and to re-stimulate older practitioners.
See Also:

Participatory Action Research

is an approach to improving social practice by changing it
is contingent on authentic participation
is collaborative
establishes self-critical communities
is a systematic learning process
involves people in theorising about their practices
requires that people put their practices, ideas and assumptions about institutions to the test
involves keeping records
requires participants to objectify their own experiences
is a political process
involves making critical analyses
starts small
starts with small cycles
starts with small groups
allows and requires participants to build records
allows and requires participants to give a reasoned justification of their social (educational) work to others
Source and Further Information

These participatory action research tenets are published on page 79 of Everyday Evaluation on the Run, Yoland Wadsworth, (2nd Edition), Allen and Unwin, Australia, 1997

For a fuller description and elaboration of Robin McTaggart’s approach to Participatory Action Research readers are advised to consult The Action Research Planner, Stephen Kemmis and Robin McTaggart (Eds), 3rd Edition, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia, 1988.

Robin McTaggart, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria 3217, Australia,

Fax (61) 52 442 777.

1. a b c Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. (2008) (eds) The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. Sage, CA. ISBN 978-1412920292.
2. a b c d e f g h i Chevalier, J.M. and Buckles, D.J. (2013) Participatory Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry, Routledge UK. ISBN 978-0415540315.
3.a b Rahman, Md. A. (2008) “Some Trends in the Praxis of Participatory Action Research”, in P. Reason and H. Bradbury (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Action Research. Sage, London, pp. 49–62.
4. Chambers, R. (2008) “PRA, PLA and Pluralism: Practice and Theory”, in The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice. Reason, P. and H. Bradbury (eds). Sage, pp. 297–318.
5. Allen, W.J. (2001) Working Together for Environmental Management: The Role of Information Sharing and Collaborative Learning. PhD Thesis, Massey University, Auckland, NZ.
6.Camic, C. and Joas, H. (2003) The Dialogical Turn: New Roles for Sociology in the Postdisciplinary Age. Rowman & Littlefield, Maryland. ISBN 978-0742527102.
7. Lewin, K. (1946) “Action Research and Minority Problems”, Journal of Social Issues, vol 2, no 4, pp. 34–46.


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