Participatory Action Research for Positive Change

What is Participatory Action Research?

Participatory Action Research is a research approach that links science and practice. It allows a community of organizational and non-organizational stakeholders to investigate their own situation, reflect on its results and co-create the best fitting interventions to tackle complex problems and achieve sustainable impact. As a Participatory Action Researcher, you facilitate this process.


PAR’s application

Participatory Action Research can be applied for all kinds of complex problems, in all kinds of domains and different settings. Check for example our PAR-projects page, to see in which fields and countries 7Senses applied Participatory Action Research so far.


Basic principles

These basic principles make up a typical Participatory Action Research process:

S – Science and practice merged together

E – Engage the community: a community-up approach

N – No debate but a dialogue

S – Social learning among and between community members and researchers

E – Embrace the strengths of a community

S – Sustainable solutions & empowerment


This blog further describes the basic principles of Participatory Action Research.


What is a community?

In short, according to Wikipedia, a community is a small or large social unit (a group of living things) that has something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity (read more). In Participatory Action Research, the community usually makes up the people who are sharing a common issue. Such community may comprise of inhabitants of a certain area and other stakeholders, such as social organisations, (social) enterprises and the local government.


Community-up co-creation of solutions

Pure top-down driven projects often trigger resistance from residents, whereas pure bottom-up approaches often face problems getting things accepted by governmental or organisational bodies. Instead of using top-down or bottom-up approaches, at 7Senses we use this term “Community-up co-creation of solutions” to emphasise the involvement of all stakeholders, that is, including organisational/governmental stakeholders as well as non-organisational stakeholders.



A typical Participatory Action Research project takes up three months, yet, depending on the scope of a PAR project this may vary widely.


For whom?

At 7Senses we offer Participatory Action Research projects and PAR related activities for the public sector, for educational institutions, and companies. Also check out our open subscription training programs of the 7Senses Action Research Academy.


More readings

Want to know more? Check out our project papers and reports and the blogs we write about Participatory Action Research. On our Facebookpage, Twitter and LinkedIn we post updates on all of our activities.


Prefer personal contact?

Go ahead, don’t hesitate! Send an email to or give a call on +31(0)639895095. Hope to see you soon!