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Indigenous Participatory Action Research (PAR)

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Varieties of Qualitative Research Methods

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Abstract

The inventor of the term “action research,” social psychologist Kurt Lewin (1946, 1952), described action research as proceeding in a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of planning, acting, observing, and evaluating the result of the action. Lewin’s deliberate overlapping of action and reflection was designed to allow changes in plans for action as people learned from their own experiences. However, Lewin did not spell out the nature of action research in much detail. (Tandon, Convergence 21:5–15, 1988) introduced participation in action research. He identified several “determinants” of authentic participation in research: “(1) People’s role in setting the agenda of the inquiry; (2) People’s participation in the data collection and the analysis; and (3) People’s control over the use of outcomes and the whole process” (p. 13). Tandon’s reference to control over the whole process means that even the research methodology itself may be reinterpreted and reconstituted by participants. Although PAR became one of the significant methods in social science, it has been recently introduced by the Indigenous scholars (Datta, R., Khyang, U. N., Khyang, H. K. P., Kheyang, H. A. P., Khyang, M. C., & Chapola, J., (2015). Participatory action research and researcher’s responsibilities: An experience with Indigenous community. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(6). https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2014.927492; Wilson S (2008) Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood.). PAR, from Indigenous perspectives, is seen as a methodology for promoting the use of Indigenous knowledge in the negotiation of land rights and related issues (Datta, 2018). Indigenous scholars (Battiste, M. (2008). Research ethics for protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage: Institutional and researcher responsibilities. In N. K. Denzin, Y. S. Lincoln, & L. Tuhiwai Smith (Eds.), Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies (pp. 497–509). Sage.; Datta, R., Khyang, U. N., Khyang, H. K. P., Kheyang, H. A. P., Khyang, M. C., & Chapola, J., (2015). Participatory action research and researcher’s responsibilities: An experience with Indigenous community. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(6). https://doi.org/10.1080/13645579.2014.927492, Dei in Socialist Studies/Études Socialistes, 2011; Smith, Denzin and Lincoln (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, SAGE, 2008; Wilson S (2008) Research is ceremony: Indigenous research methods. Fernwood.) refer to PAR differently than they do with Western qualitative research. For instance, they refer to a number of responsibilities in PAR with Indigenous communities. Such responsibilities include situating the researcher within the participants’ community (i.e., building trustful relationships), empowering participants, recognizing spiritual and relational knowledge, and taking political stands for participants’ community (Datta, Journal of AlterNative 14:35–44, 2019; Smith, Denzin and Lincoln (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, SAGE, 2008).

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Correspondence to Ranjan Datta .

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Datta, R. (2023). Indigenous Participatory Action Research (PAR). In: Okoko, J.M., Tunison, S., Walker, K.D. (eds) Varieties of Qualitative Research Methods. Springer Texts in Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04394-9_38

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-04394-9_38

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