Levelling the playing fields in PAR: the intricacies of power, privilege and participation in a university-community school partnership

Lesley Wood, Mary McAteer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

When academics, who occupy a traditional position of power and privilege, engage with community members whose thinking, attitudes and responses have been shaped by ongoing socio-historical oppression and disadvantage, democratic participation is not easy to attain. Yet, unless community members feel able to participate freely, the valuable local knowledge they bring to the project will be lost and the learning will again be based on theories that may have little relevance for them. We explain how power relations can be leveled through the utilization of specific strategies within a participatory action research design. Seven community members and five teachers collaborated to develop a training program that the community members would later use to educate parents about how to better support their children academically. Informed by a qualitative analysis of visual and textual data generated in several working sessions for this project, findings indicate that, while the flattening of power relations is an ongoing and complex task, specific strategies can be used to “level the playing fields” and negotiate the intricacies of power, privilege and participation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Early online date23 Apr 2017
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Adult learning
  • community development
  • democratic participation
  • parental support
  • participatory action research
  • powerrelations

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