Participatory Action Research

S. Kindon*, R. Pain, M. Kesby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

72 Citations (Scopus)


Participatory action research (PAR) is a rapidly growing approach in human geography. PAR has diverse origins in different parts of the world over the last 70 years and it takes many forms depending on the particular context and issues involved. Broadly speaking, it is research by, with, and for people affected by a particular problem, which takes places in collaboration with academic researchers. It seeks to democratize knowledge production and foster opportunities for empowerment by those involved. Within human geography, it offers a politically engaged means of exploring materialities, emotionalities, and aspects of nonrepresentational experience to inform progressive change. Participatory approaches are not without their critics who argue that these can verge on the tyrannical, reproducing the inequalities they seek to overcome. Yet, PAR has exciting synergies with feminist, post-structural, and postcolonial geographies. These enable engagements with both productive and negative effects of power through attention to language, representation, and subjectivity. The ongoing development and experimentation with a range of participatory methods and techniques continue to inspire new understandings and possibilities for action-oriented research within and beyond the academy.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780080449104
ISBN (Print)9780080449111
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Action
  • Activism
  • Collaborative research
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Empowerment
  • Feminist geographies
  • Participatory action research
  • Participatory methods
  • Place
  • Politics of research
  • Post-structuralist geographies
  • Postcolonial geographies
  • Research ethics
  • Scale
  • Space


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