Developing theory about community-based participatory research II

(continuing a series of posts presenting an exploratory research proposal from March 2010)

2.  How do researchers move towards the participatory end of the continuum of CBPR?

Chung and Lounsbury [5] present a continuum of CBPR from compliant participation through directed consultation and mutual consultation to empowering co-investigation.  They also describe their experience of what I term structural frustration, which results from sponsors using their power to change the terms of the research, selectively discount the outcomes of CBPR, or stifle the continuing participation of community members. (Equivalent structural frustrations have long been evident in CBPR in Natural Resources Management; see [2].)  Yet even if structural sources of frustration did not exist, the place where research lies on the CBPR continuum is not simply a matter of choice or commitment [6] of the reseachers.  There are also process frustrations.  It is not a given that members of communities and concerned health researchers are skilled and effective in contributing to the desired outcomes of collaboration with diverse participants.  The approach taken in this project rests on the premise that investment of time and attention to “cultivating collaboration” [7] is needed if CBPR is to avoid process frustrations and, as a consequence, be less vulnerable to structural frustrations.

The approach to cultivating collaboration be explored in this proposal is through what I call here “engagement^5” workshops [7].  This approach builds on the model and evaluations of a series of innovative, interaction-intensive, interdisciplinary workshops that I have organized (dating back to 1998) that foster collaboration among those who teach, study, and engage with the public about scientific developments and social change ([8] givesmore details about these workshops).  The centerpiece of this capacity-building, proposal-development, and research project is a series of multi-day workshops, which, together with other shorter forms of training in methods of collaboration and participation, will lead over two years to the formation of a research team and a wider constituency supporting that team.  Each workshop is also designed to be valuable in its own right to participants (see engagement a-c in next post), even if they do not go on to become part of the constituency or team working on the CBPR (see engagement d & e).

(To be continued)


[2] For a review of the politics of participation and participation rhetoric, see Peters, P. (1996), “”Who’s local here?”  The politics of participation in development,” Cultural Survival Quarterly 20(3): 22-60.

[5] Chung, K. and D. W. Lounsbury (2006). “The role of power, process, and relationships in participatory research for statewide HIV/AIDS programming.” Social Science & Medicine 63: 2129–2140.

[6] Global Alliance on Community Engaged Research (2009). Higher Education, Community Engagement and the World We Want (A Policy Brief to the World Conference on Higher Education).

[7] New England Workshop on Science and Social Change (2010). Links to webpages and associated materials for all workshops. (viewed 16 March 2010).

[8] Taylor, P. J., S. J. Fifield, et al. (2009). “Cultivating Collaborators: Concepts and Questions Emerging Interactively From An Evolving, Interdisciplinary Workshop.”  Ms. (viewed 16 March 2010).


One thought on “Developing theory about community-based participatory research II

  1. Pingback: Developing theory about community-based participatory research I « Intersecting Processes

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