What is PAR?

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a framework for engaging in research and organizing for social justice that is rooted in a community’s own knowledge, wisdom, and experience. PAR recognizes that those most impacted by systemic injustice are in the best position to understand and analyze their needs and challenges and to organize for social change.

In a PAR-generated process:

The outcomes can take many shapes and forms depending on what the group determines together, but it is the group’s own agenda and not someone else’s.

We engage in collective research and organizing to build community and make change.

The work is about generating and building knowledge together in order to define the change we seek to make. This begins with telling our own stories, which centers our own experiences.

Community members are recognized as experts, and all participants are considered both teachers and learners. Too often, outside “experts” come in to identify and address a community’s problems, and PAR challenges this notion of who has the expertise.

We work intentionally and always think carefully about whose voices are being heard, who is making decisions, and how we are moving forward. We consider our roles, position, and privilege in relation to changing conditions of injustice.

Like popular education, it is a broad framework that is participatory, collective, critical, and reflective, building from the work of Orlando Fals-Borda, Paulo Freire, and many others. It is not a neutral process and actively builds community strength and leadership to change unjust conditions.