Action and Knowledge draws on twenty years of experience with the techniques and philosophy of Participatory Action-Research (PAR). PAR is an innovative approach to economic and social change, which goes beyond usual institutional boundaries in development by actively involving the people in generating knowledge about their own condition and how it can be changed. PAR requires a strong commitment by participating social scientists to deprofessionalize their expertise and share it with the people, while recognizing that the communities directly involved have the critical voice in determining the direction and goals of change as subjects rather than objects.
PAR has its origins in the work of Third World social scientists more than three decades ago as they brought new ways to empower the oppressed by helping them to acquire reliable knowledge on which to construct countervailing power. It has since spread throughout the world, as reflected in this book with contributions from Asia, Africa Latin America and North America in the form of case studies of actual experience with the PAR approach.
PAR is not static and fixed but dynamic and enduring, as the case studies and the theoretical chapters that precede and follow the case studies amply reveal.