Participatory action research (PAR) aims for research that is conducted with people, not on them.

PAR democratises research processes through the participation of citizens as co-researchers. In PAR, people with similar lived experiences work together and participate in the research process in phases from which they are usually excluded from, e.g., deciding on the focus and questions that guide the inquiry.

Wider use of PAR in applied and policy research in Estonia contributes to a more just society and has the potential to faciliate social change. Participatory approaches to research enhance the voices of different social groups, especially marginalised communities. In PAR, people are not simply validating decisions and policies designed by researchers and policy makers. Instead, they become more aware of their own situation through the research process and participate in producing knowledge about issues that affect their lives.

The objective of this project is to strengthen democratic culture by increasing the capacity of Estonian civil society organisations to use participatory action research (PAR) with their communities, stakeholders and service users.

To achieve this, we aim to:

  • Organise an introductory participatory action research training for NGO and public sector representatives who are involved in policy research
  • Implement two PAR studies with our partners, Estonian Union for Child Welfare and Estonian Fund for Nature
  • Create Estonian-language PAR guidelines

The project team is supported by an expert on participatory inquiry, Dr Joanna Howard from the Institute of Development Studies.