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Action Research and Participatory Research: An Overview


  • Michel Thiollent


In this article, we outline the main elements concerning the evolution of action research and participatory research that we have come across in the last decades. These concepts have come closer together along the years, and have become a strong methodological alternative, especially in people-driven projects. They have gained ground in the scientific world, in the fields of social science, as well as in other more conservative domains, as demonstrated by some of our experiences in Brazil. Their importance in the context of teaching, in universities and educational projects alike, is also stressed. The aspect of participation is defined in more detail in regards to the different degrees and forms of participation, as well as its religious component in Brazil. Action research and participatory research are, finally, methodologies that, in light of their potential for encompassing the stakeholders’ view in the results and developing a sharing culture, must constantly be renewed in order to evolve and always be a rich source of knowledge and critical thinking.

Suggested Citation

  • Michel Thiollent, 2011. "Action Research and Participatory Research: An Overview," International Journal of Action Research, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 7(2), pages 160-174.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ijares:doi_10.1688/1861-9916_ijar_2011_02_thiollent

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    Cited by:

    1. Dianne Quigley & David Sonnenfeld & Phil Brown & Linda Silka & Linlang He & Qing Tian, 2016. "Research ethics training on place-based communities and cultural groups," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 6(3), pages 479-489, September.

    More about this item


    action research in Brazil; participatory research; historical context; social pratices; education for people;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean


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