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Documentary Method and Participatory Research: Some Interfaces


  • Wivian Weller
  • Catarina Malheiros da Silva


As the pluralisation of spheres of life emerged, qualitative research became more relevant to study social relations. In an attempt to recognise the potential of the documentary method and of participatory research for the study of issues concerning the social and educational experiences of subjects, this article proposes to present conceptual and methodological frameworks of both approaches. Initially we explain the historical context of participatory research and also present the frameworks of reference of this approach. Then we discuss the documentary method developed in Germany since the 1980s based on Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge. Furthermore the authors describe the ethnographic route of two experiments in research with young Brazilians in different socio-spatial contexts. These experiments were guided by the assumptions of the documentary method, but also by principles that establish points in common with the assumptions of participatory research.

Suggested Citation

  • Wivian Weller & Catarina Malheiros da Silva, 2011. "Documentary Method and Participatory Research: Some Interfaces," International Journal of Action Research, Rainer Hampp Verlag, vol. 7(3), pages 294-318.
  • Handle: RePEc:rai:ijares:doi_10.1688/1861-9916_ijar_2011_03_weller

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    qualitative research; participatory research; documentary method; black youths; rural youths; Brazilian youths;

    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
    • N96 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure


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