Participatory action research as a valuebased approach to community development
Juujärvi, Soile; Lund, Virpi (2020)
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
Participatory action research (PAR) is a well-known approach in social sciences but is seldom used in urban development projects. It represents a community-focused approach that is deeply grounded in ethical values, especially that of social justice. This paper analyzes experiences from two PAR projects, conducted in a disadvantaged municipal district. We worked as project managers and researchers in the projects Caring and Sharing Networks (2013–2015) and Participatory Budgeting in Neighbourhood Development (2016–2018) in the city of Espoo. In this article, we share the lessons learned from PAR. In particular, we focus on the question of how to reach, motivate, engage and empower citizens to participate in community development. Participant empowerment is crucial for successful PAR projects. This means that priority should to be given to participants’ voices at all stages of the project, and researchers must acknowledge and reflect on values underlying and guiding the research process. This makes PAR a fundamentally ethical enterprise.