Destabilising equilibriums: harnessing the power of disruption in participatory action research

Cook, Tina, Brandon, Toby, Zonouzi, Maryam and Thomson, Louise (2019) Destabilising equilibriums: harnessing the power of disruption in participatory action research. Educational Action Research, 27 (3). pp. 379-395. ISSN 0965-0792

Destab Equils Amends 7.5.19 not anon unmarked.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (589kB) | Preview
Official URL:


This article draws on insights gained from three projects described as participatory action research (PAR) undertaken in the UK. What binds them together is that each project coordinator raised the issue of the under-representation of opportunities for disruption in the possible trajectory to knowledge democracy.

PAR places a relational process at the centre of the research practice. It brings together people with varied knowledges, perspectives and experiences and aspires to be a non-hierarchical, relational, collaborative endeavour. This challenges the traditional hierarchical hegemony of the external expert in research situations. Bringing people together does not, however, equate to shared agency, authentic participation and knowledge democracy. For different knowledges to be created previous knowledges need to be disrupted.The argument raised in this paper is that a neglected element of PAR has been the deliberate intent to nurture disruption within communicative spaces in relationally based engagements. It is posited that the disruption of beliefs and assumptions that underpin local actions, is an important enabler of other voices and knowledges being recognised and acted upon. The three projects described reveal how and why the harnessing of power through disruption contributes to creating a functional knowledge democracy for more radical change.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Participatory, disruption, emancipatory, co-production, knowledge democracy, partnership
Subjects: L500 Social Work
L900 Others in Social studies
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Social Work, Education and Community Wellbeing
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2019 13:45
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 14:00

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics