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Power Relations and Participatory Research

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Course Information


In this 3 day course, we will use practical exercises and case studies to examine power relations within participatory research. Participants will develop their own existing participatory research project(s), or a proposal for the future. They will have the opportunity to learn how to address unequal power relations to ensure the research is both high quality and is produced inclusively and can be jointly translated into positive change in communities locally, globally or both.

The course covers:

  • An exploration of power relationships within participatory research
  • The position of the participatory worker (or facilitator) in participatory research projects that involve experts by experience
  • Understanding intersectional factors affecting peoples contributions to and impact within participatory research projects

By the end of the course participants will:

  • Understand how to recognise and address power dynamics in research
  • Have unpacked power relations including:
    • between research institutes and communities; facilitators and participants; experts and experts by experience; funders, policy-makers, grassroots movements
    • in terms of research methodologies and qualitative and quantitative approaches
    • in relation to socio-economic factors such as age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, education, income, disability, health status
  • Have developed a proposal for a participatory research project, or a critical participatory process of reflection on a past process, which recognises and addresses unequal power relations

Day 1


Reflections on preparatory materials (reading, podcasts)

Knowledge and needs mapping

Theories of learning

Participatory heroes

Practical exercises on participatory approaches and power relations in research

Initial presentations of project ideas

Day 2

Case studies: Refugee Youth; peasant farmers; gender

Scenario building

Reflection on project ideas

Day 3

Experimenting with project ideas

Refining project plans

Sharing future learning and collaboration opportunities.


Course Code


Course Dates

16th May 2017 – 18th May 2017

Course Leader

Dr Tom Wakeford
Course Description

Target Audience

The course is suitable for researchers or those commissioning research at any level in academic or government institutions who have an interest in participatory research which is co-produced with experts by experience. It is not necessary for course participants to have experience of conducting participatory research. Participants are invited to come with an idea for a participatory research project which we will develop over the course duration.


Participants should be acquainted with the basic functions of Google Docs.

Preparatory Reading


Peoples Knowledge and Participatory Action Research: Escaping the White-Walled Labyrinth. Available from: http://www.peoplesknowledge.org/resources/publications/

Reading list

Will be posted here: http://www.peoplesknowledge.org/resources/

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