Participatory Action Research Group

Are you interested in reinvigorating the social sciences so that they are increasingly participatory, democratic, focused on social and environmental justice?

Would you like to participate and facilitate research that informs and supports thoughtful action and practical change?

If so you might be interested in participatory research or perhaps even more specifically, participatory action research (PAR). The sessions held by the group are open to everyone, so you are welcome whether you are just curious about participatory methods or thinking of incorporating the approach into your own research.

The participatory research surgeries are monthly sessions of an hour and a half. Sessions are designed by the person leading them but may involve the trial of a technique, a reading, a piece of their work to discuss, or a critical discussion about participatory research. The person will usually present their work in progress research, and any challenges they are facing in it, whether practical or theoretical. This is an opportunity for supportive critique to help that person move forward with their work. Participatory methods and tools then may be trialled and discussed.

Contact us with queries, or just come along! Alice.Willatt@bristol.ac.ukStephanie.Denning@bristol.ac.uk or Lydia.Medland@bristol.ac.uk


Autumn / Spring Series:

You are welcome to join any of the PAR sessions below. Sessions are student-led and take place at 1 Priory Road, University of Bristol.

13th December - Lisa Morgans - Participatory action research and policy making- the dos and don'ts!

In this session I would like to explore other people's experiences of using PAR to aid and inform policy and the outcomes of these experiences. Can it work? How best to approach participatory policy making? And what even is policy? I am following the progress of 3-4 farmer action groups across the south west to see whether dairy farmers can lead the way in reducing their farm's antibiotic usage. I am observing and recording everything that is said in these groups and measuring their antibiotic use throughout. Their ideas and discussion is my data. Being a vet puts me in the awkward position of 'advice giver', but I cannot slip into this role or risk contaminating the data I am collecting. 

10th January - Rachel Wilder - Discussion of paper: Fields (2016) The Racialized Erotics of Participatory Research: A Queer Feminist Understanding (WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly -- Volume 44, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2016)

Paper abstract: At the intersections of empirical research, queer theory, and women of color feminism, I explore the place of racialized, gendered, and sexualized erotics in participatory action research (PAR). Focusing on my own erotic experience of a PAR study of intimacy, HIV/AIDS, and systemic violence and regulation, I argue for queer feminist PAR that refuses to cast failures, flirtations, and misreadings as obstacles to understanding. Queer feminist PAR instead recognizes such anxious situations as visceral experiences of social difference and affinity in which researchers, participants, and collaborators assert their personhood. Ultimately, such moments facilitate queer feminist inquiry.

14th February - Nicci Shall, topic tbc

14th March - Emilia Melville, topic tbc


Previous seminars in 2015 /2016 have included:

July 2016 - Stephanie Denning, Challenging power relations and positionality in participatory action research

June 2016 - Jack Nicholls,  Intersubjective self and research

May 2016 Diana Barrera - an ethical discussion of methods

February 2016: Emma Griffin– Community Based Participatory Research

January 2016: Lydia Medland – Visual Methodologies

December 2015: Alice Willatt – Future Creating Workshops

November 2015: Jo Howard – Digital Storytelling