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Handbook on Participatory Action Research and Community Development – Book Review

Handbook on Participatory Action Research and Community Development

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
Year: 2022
Language: English

Edited by

Randy Stoecker, Professor and Director of the Applied Population Laboratory, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Adrienne Falcón, Professor and Director of the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership, Chair of the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Department, Metropolitan State University, US

This Handbook is a critical resource for carefully considering the possibilities and challenges of strategically integrating participatory action research (PAR) and community development (CD). Utilizing practical examples from diverse contexts across five continents, it looks at how communities are empowering themselves and bringing about systemic change.

Chapters provide models for sustainably integrating the two practices and explore the transformative potential of decolonizing innovations and incorporating community organizing. With contributions by leading scholars and practitioners from the global south and north, the Handbook explores ways to build infrastructure to bring PAR and CD together, how to use PAR and CD to build people’s power and capacity, and how to integrate PAR and CD in relation to community and organizational capacity building. It further gives practical advice and academic analysis on youth PAR, how to use PAR and CD in crisis situations such as earthquakes and pandemics, and envisions radically alternative PAR and CD approaches.

This is a timely resource for social science scholars looking to better understand PAR as an important research method. It rethinks the theories underpinning both PAR and CD, offering important lessons for community development practitioners and non-profit professionals, as well as higher education professors interested in community engagement.

Book Review

The Handbook on Participatory Action Research and Community Development is an excellent resource for researchers, community development specialists, and policymakers.  The transformative potential of participatory research practices has long been acknowledged, and this Handbook integrates these research practices with community development, identifying the overlap that has the potential to enrich both practices. This Handbook comes at the perfect time, as the weight evidence builds for the general failures of top-down approaches to community development. The Handbook provides practical examples and extensive discussion of the different contexts within which community development occurs. The diverse contributions for an important resource for anyone interested in community development.

Other Notable Editorial Reviews

‘The authors in this illuminating volume represent a diverse array of places, positions, and participatory initiatives. Their thoughtful analyses of their specific contexts and approaches to knowledge production and community change offer rich theoretical insights and examples that will be useful to students, faculty, and practitioners interested in collaborative research and action.’
– Julie L. Plaut, Brown University, US

‘By combining PAR and Community Development, the editors frame each article’s commitment to praxis for social change within the radical traditions of global south educators and activists such as Friere, Fals Borda, and Rahman. The various cases range from rural to urban, national to global, and cover issues from health and the environment to homelessness and community planning. For anyone studying or implementing community-based collaborations for research and action projects, this book offers a treasure trove of innovative case studies and inspirational possibilities. For anyone, like me, who still holds fast to the potential of engaged research for social justice, even in the face of neoliberal universities hell-bent on sucking the life blood out of faculty and students in search of a more just and humane world, this book is a lifeline.’
– Corey Dolgon, Stonehill College, US

Purchase online

The eBook version is priced from £20/$26 from eBook vendors while in print the book can be ordered from the Edward Elgar Publishing website.


1 Introduction: reflecting upon the development of participatory action research and community development efforts 1
Randy Stoecker and Adrienne Falcón


2 Flipping the script: community-initiated urban research with the Liberal Arts Action Lab 23
Megan Brown, Jack Dougherty, and Jeff Partridge

3 Toward a community development science shop model: insights from Peterborough, Haliburton and the Kawartha Lakes 43
Randy Stoecker, Todd Barr, and Mark Skinner

4 Elevating community voices 60
Jenice Meyer and Katelyn Baumann

5 Sociocultural intervention as a resource for social transformation in Cuban communities of the twenty-first century 80
Manuel Martínez Casanova and Adrienne Falcón


6 Community organizing for environmental change: integrating research in support of organized actions 99
Dadit G. Hidayat and Molly Schwebach

7 The birth of a community of practice in Québec to support community organizations leading participatory action research as a tool for community development: what it teaches us 118
Lucie Gélineau, Sophie Dupéré, Marie-Jade Gagnon, Lyne Gilbert, Isabe Bernier, Nicole Bouchard, Julie Richard, and Marie-Hélène Deshaies

8 The centrality of storytelling at the nexus of academia and community organizing in rural Kentucky 139
Nicole Breazeale, Dana Beasley-Brown, Samantha Johnson, and Alexa Hatcher


9 Putting theory into practice: leveraging community-based research to achieve community-based outcomes in DeLand, Florida 160
Maxwell Droznin, Kelsey Maglio, Asal M. Johnson, Cristian Cuevas, and Shilretha Dixon

10 From mission to praxis in neighborhood work: lessons learned from a three-year faculty/community development initiative 180
Laura L. O’Toole, Nancy E. Gordon, and Jessica L. Walsh

11 Early childhood wellness through asset-based community development: a participatory evaluation of Communities Acting for Kids’ Empowerment 200
Farrah Jacquez, Michael Topmiller, Jamie-Lee Morris, Alexander Shelton, Cynthia Wooten, Lakisha A. Best, Alan Dicken, Monica Arenas-Losacker, Giovanna Alvarez, Crystal Davis, and Shanah Cole

12 The complexities of participatory action research: a community development project in Bangladesh 218
Larry Stillman, Misita Anwar, Gillian Oliver, Viviane Frings-Hessami, Anindita Sarker, and Nova Ahmed


13 Youth participatory action research as an approach to developing community-level responses to youth homelessness in the United States: learning from Advocates for Richmond Youth 239
M. Alex Wagaman, Kimberly S. Compton, Tiffany S. Haynes, Jae Lange, Elaine G. Williams, and Rae Caballero Obejero

14 Volunteerism as a vehicle for civil society development in Ukraine: a community-based project to develop youth volunteerism in a Ukrainian community 259
Danielle Stevens, Tetiana Kidruk, and Oleh Petrus

15 Design your neighborhood: the evolution of a city-wide urban design learning initiative in Nashville, Tennessee 281
Kathryn Y. Morgan, Brian D. Christens, and Melody Gibson


16 Rethinking participatory development in the context of a strong state 302
Ming Hu

17 Tracing power from within: learning from participatory action research and community development projects in food systems during the COVID-19 pandemic 321
Laura Jessee Livingston

18 The information and knowledge landscapes of mutual aid: how librarians can use participatory action research to support social movements in community development 341
Alessandra Seiter


19 Be and build the city: an experience of sociopraxis in Cuenca, Ecuador 359
Ana Elisa Astudillo and Ana Cecilia Salazar

20 Leading with locally produced knowledge: development in Jemna, Tunisia 379
Ihsan Mejdi and Celeste Koppe

21 Relationship as resistance: partnership and vivencia in participatory action research 394
José Wellington Sousa

22 Re-storying participatory action research: a narrative approach to challenging epistemic violence in community development 415
Daniel Bryan and Chelsea Viteri

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