Reflections and directions: a personal note

Publication year: 

In this reflective article, as part of the special 50th issue of PLA Notes, Robert Chambers recalls the milestones and breakthroughs in the evolution of participation. He comments that many of the innovations are occurring everyday in workshops and practices in the South, but sadly this is not represented in the literature which tends to be dominated by Northern writers. The author echoes the request from the very first edition of RRA Notes (which has since become PLA Notes), calling for people to write in with stories, innovations, reflections from the field, spelling mistakes and all, to help amplify the voices of those working at the cutting edge of participatory approaches in practice. The author reflects on what we have learnt during the evolution of participation, including they can do it; difference matters; PRA approaches and methods can open up hidden and sensitive subjects; behaviour, attitudes and good facilitation matter more than methods; methodological pluralism works best; the importance of combining practice and critique; scale with quality needs commitment, continuity and congruence; institutional change is a progression and an art; and that participatory professionalism challenges power. The article concludes by looking at where we are now, and we are going, particularly focusing on the dimensions of power and the necessity of transforming power from above as well as from below. This includes looking at approaches and curricula in training and education as well as looking at change and transformation at the personal as well as institutional level.

Source publication information
Journal Title: 
Participatory learning and action
No. 50
IIED, 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD, UK
Publisher reference: 
International Institute for Environment and Development