The Urban Review

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 585–601 | Cite as

Youth Voice, Civic Engagement and Failure in Participatory Action Research

  • Kevin J. Burke
  • Stuart Greene
  • Maria K. McKenna


In this article, we tell the story of a changing urban landscape through the eyes of the youth we work with in an ongoing after-school program and community-based research project rooted in Photovoice methodology. In particular, we focus on the work that, over the 6 years of our time with youth, has “ended up on the cutting room floor” (Paris and Winn (eds) Humanizing research: decolonizing qualitative inquiry with youth and communities. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, 2014, p. xix). This attention to the work that has fallen through the cracks is a move to engage the central tenets of Humanizing Research, but it’s also a call to think critically with and through the failures that emerge in work with youth. We attend specifically to an ongoing failure in our work as a way to think about the kinds of promises that are often made and broken in participatory action research. In doing so, we tease out the implications of our work with youth and the steps community-based researchers can take to navigate the challenges that can impede the goals of fostering meaningful change.


Youth participatory action research Humanizing research Youth civic engagement Photovoice methodology Failure 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. Burke
    • 1
  • Stuart Greene
    • 2
  • Maria K. McKenna
    • 2
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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