The problem of investigating reality in order to transform it.
- Pals Borda, Orlando
- Public Policy
The epistemology of participatory research relates knowledge to action, especially the production of knowledge and political action to redress inequality .This paper identifies characteristics of participatory research and describes three research efforts which exemplify them in varying degrees. The tenets of participatory research suggest guidelines for degrees, the conduct of inquiry for social scientists interested in the relation of research to increased political participation and improved human services. The relation of knowledge and action, along with other epistemological considerations of various research methodologies, has occupied the attention of social scientists. Much of the training of social scientists is in fact socialization to the canons of a discipline which require their intelligent use and knowledge of their comparative merits and limits. The distinction of fact and value is generally as far as most graduate students go in plumbing the philosophical depths of their discipline. Often the "value free" research these graduate students produce later as practitioners of a discipline is understood as innocent of politics and objective in any implications for action. The disciplines of social science, in general, preserve a place for dissent from their dominant paradigms and their practice. Thus, one finds discussion of the relation of fact and value, of the value-ladened assumptions of "value free" research, and of the ontology beneath every epistemology. Equally problematic for a few researchers is the relation of knowledge to action. Correspondence to: Richard A. Couto, Center for Health Services, Vanderbilt University, Nashville,