Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

Synopsis

This volume describes a grass-roots approach to empowering people for democratic social change. It explains participatory research using exemplary case studies on community organizing, feminist theory, and ecological movements from a wide range of locations in North America. The first collection of essays on participatory research in Canada and the United States, the book is an eloquent demonstration that the same approach to social change is needed in industrialized countries as it is in underdeveloped countries. Challenging the relevance and validity of academic social science research, participatory research is an important tool for social activists, community workers, and adult educators working with oppressed peoples.

Excerpt

This book is a collection of articles which focus on the North American experience in participatory research. The authors have all been directly engaged in participatory research. Some of us have also been involved in theoretical elaboration and quite a few of us have been involved with creating or maintaining networks, centers, or other structures which support the work of many other organizations and individuals. I would submit that the fact that each of us has been engaged in practical, theoretical, and institutional aspects of the participatory research discourse gives our work its flavor.

The focus on the United States and Canada is deliberate and to some extent long overdue. As far as we know, the first uses of the term itself, participatory research, came from Tanzania in the early 1970s. And much of the early momentum behind participatory research came from groups in the dominated nations, who seized upon the ideas as part of the resistance to colonial or neocolonial research practices. There have been books on the African, Latin American, and Asian experience in participatory. research (Kassam and Mustafa 1982; Tandon and Fernandes 1984; Vio Grossi et al. 1983), and some international collections (Hall et al. 1982), including a fine volume by Orlando Fals Borda and Anisur Rahman (1991). And the Bibliography in this book offers a great many other references.

We recognize that patterns of domination which produce violence, powerlessness, and poverty in the nations of the South are deeply present in both Canada and the United States. Advanced capitalist structures, racist institutions, and patriarchal patterning have created growing groups of diverse women and men who have fallen out of either the American, the Canadian, or the Quebecois(e) "dream." Deeply entrenched poverty; violence against women; toxic poisoning; homelessness; unemployment, par-

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