This paper looks at the role of PRA in addressing inequality and argues that participatory methods themselves contribute very little to an emancipatory process. It suggests that unless PRA is explicitly linked with an educational process which enables people with little power and resources to gain more control over their lives, the term 'participatory' will remain meaningless. A critical step is understanding issues of difference among 'the poor,' especially gender difference. However, it is one thing to identify differences but another to deal with the conflicting interests that emerge. The potential for a backlash against weaker groups is a real concern and must be taken into consideration. While the facilitator has a role to play in enabling groups to analyze the effects of possible reactions to the action they propose, it is the group of participants who must make the final decision.
Will be of particular interest to PRA practitioners working at the community level who are concerned with issues of conflict and empowerment
International Institute for Environment and Development