Author Tiffany Fairey introduces a new paper just published in ARJ with Pamina Firchow and Peter Dixon:

“All action research seeks to drive change for communities however there can be a tension at its heart. Policy change requires research data that is professionally credible and robust which results from methods which can be participatory but remain researcher controlled and to some degree extractive. Community change, on the other hand, requires a more open-ended research process and methods that are community owned and driven. How can researchers committed to action research manage this tension? How can we create action research that attends to the sometimes conflicting goals of robust research, policy change and community action.

Our paper details how we met this tension in our peacebuilding research by integrating collaborative and action-oriented participatory methods. Working with conflict affected communities in Colombia we combined participatory indicators and photovoice. We demonstrate how mixing participatory methods creates opportunities for different research stakeholders to attain fruitful and meaningful levels of ownership and catalyse multiple ways of knowing-for-action that results in community peacebuilding outcomes and that can impact policy and programming.

We have been working with a wider group of peace and conflict researchers exploring what inclusive rigour looks like in peacebuilding research and practice. Robert Chambers, who proposed the notion of inclusive rigour1, highlights that traditional thinking on what constitutes ‘rigour’ is reductionist and cannot cope with complexity or unstable, dynamic research settings such as conflict and post conflict environments. Various of his canons for inclusive rigour for complexity speak to the need for eclectic methodological pluralism that brings in diverse perspectives. We explain in our paper how in the bringing together of everyday peace indicators and photovoice, the two methods work to complement and enhance the other by countering each other’s methodological limitations. Harnessing the power of community generated indicators and images, the research design seeks to meet the expectations for robust metrics while being inclusive and catalysing community action and impact.

ARJ forever link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/14767503221137851