Participatory Development

IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation

International Association of Public Participation, Spectrum of Public Participation, poster.

Created by the International Association of Public Participation, this chart helps scaffold the process for increasing meaningful engagement by addressing the goals, public communication, and example participation techniques. IAP2 is an international organization for knowledge sharing and capacity building of best practices for public participation. This straightforward graphic is based off of the Arnstein’s ladder of public participation and includes the categories of: inform, consult, involve, collaborate, empower. While this graphic does not provide any practical guidelines, it presents a clear framework for thinking about the work of public participation and can be a useful reference point.


Beyond Consensus: Improving Collaborative Planning and Management

Margerum, R. D., & others. (2011). Beyond Consensus: Improving Collaborative Planning and Management, MIT Press: Cambridge Mass.

This book highlights severali mportant parts of conducting a consensus meeting which is getting the right people into the group, how the participants are collaborating, and effective product generated from consensus.These chapters go in to great detail on each of these topics and cite numerous case studies as evidence of what to do, and what not to do.  This book is useful because it shows real world examples of many of the problems that can arise from convening a consensus meeting.  It illustrates that the consensus meeting starts long before the group sits down to collaborate and its results may effect projects for years after.  The case studies are from a range of governmental management and the focus of this book is how to have consensus meeting have a tangible effect on management and policy.

Facilitation as Action Research in the Moment

Mackewn, J. (2008). Facilitation as Action Research in the Moment. The Sage handbook of action research: Participative inquiry and practice, 615-628

This article goes into detail about one key factor in a successful consensus meeting, the facilitator.  The author lists necessary skills for facilitation and describes the process of facilitation as Action Research in which the group influences how the facilitator works, navigating through preconceived notions of individuals, communities, or organizations, awareness of the wider context of the group, and managing group energy.  It lays out how facilitator’s behavior changes as the group develops.  It highlights the difficulties of facilitation and outlines what is required of a great facilitator.  The role of a researcher in a consensus meeting is that of a facilitator and this is an important read for anyone attempting facilitation using a Participatory/activist Research methodology.

Creating alternative research methods: Learning to do it by doing it.

Freire, P. (1982). Creating alternative research methods: Learning to do it by doing it. Creating knowledge: A monopoly, 29-37.

This paper focuses on methods of participatory research that have been drawn from work done in Australia. The author cautions against overreliance on one set of principles while others are also relevant; therefore he lists what principles of participatory research are and what they are not. There is a diversity of disciplines where participatory research is applied so participatory research might mean different things to different people. A key feature in action research is that those affected by a certain problem have the primary responsibility of deciding on the kind of action to be taken to hopefully address the problem. The difference between ‘participation’ and ‘involvement’ is also discussed as something researchers intending to use participatory action research approach must consider. The author argues that there is more to participatory research other than learning; it also involves knowledge production and action using new ways of relating to each other to make reform possible. The methods that participatory action researchers use such as case studies are described. Five things which do not compose participatory research are listed to help researchers when choosing their methodology. Practical examples of the principles in action are also included.

‘Stop stealing our stories’: The ethics of research with vulnerable groups

Pittaway, E., Bartolomei, L., & Hugman, R. (2010). ‘Stop stealing our stories’: The ethics of research with vulnerable groups. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 2(2), 229-251.

The article describes the ethics of doing research with vulnerable people, ethical thinking at an individual and organizational level and how to combine ethical sensitivity with strategic effectiveness. The authors argue that ethical inadequacies lead to the ill-treatment of vulnerable people as a means to achieve research results which breaches the basic principles of accepted research ethics.

This article focuses on the challenges and opportunities faced when using participatory methods into human rightsbased research. Specifically it focuses on ethical problems experienced while doing research with refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs). It further looks at the ethical concerns as raised by the refugees that the authors were working with. Reciprocal research which involves getting information from people through community consultation and training is also mentioned. The authors also describe how a human-rights based approach can be integrated with participatory methods that view the participants as people with dignity and strength from which they can negotiate their position in research.

Images for change: community development, community arts and photography

Purcell, R. (2009). Images for change: community development, community arts and photography. Community Development Journal, 44(1), 111-122.

Photography as a means of achieving community development goals is the subject of this article. It is introduced with three ways that community development is achieved with specific examples in the UK; community development as projects directed by the government, as community- generated and as a partnership between the government and the community. In the partnership approach power relations emerge and it is at this point, that the author suggests, photography comes in to give voice to otherwise hidden community-based problems. The author moves from broadly discussing the benefits of arts in community development then specifically addresses the contribution of photography to community development. Three aspects of photography in relation to development are discussed; photo-elicitation, photo-novella, and photovoice. Specific examples in the UK are given of how photovoice works in development. To conclude the author mentions the aspect of organizations or researchers using the local people, with a method such as photovoice, for their own organizational ends.

Picturing community development work in Uganda: fostering dialogue through photovoice

Bananuka, T., & John, V. M. (2014). Picturing community development work in Uganda: fostering dialogue through photovoice. Community Development Journal, bsu036.

This article is based on the use of photovoice as a method in development research work as done in Uganda. Photovoice is defined as a ‘non-text’ method of doing participatory research that can be used for, among other benefits, its empowering potential of those involved in research. The authors start by giving a brief introduction of the use of photovoice as a method in social sciences. They then show how photovoice as a method allows community development workers to present their work and roles at the community through their own perspective. This is particularly important because their work is often presented from external points of view. Further, the research process in this particular project from generating data through photovoice to analyzing this data is addressed. Ethical issues arising from using photovoice were also considered and the researcher’s power in the research process is acknowledged. From their findings the authors argue that photovoice can be a framework that allows for dialogue in multiple ways to occur for example between the researcher and the participants, the researcher and self and a community level dialogue.