This article begins with a brief discussion of the links between the concepts of participation and social exclusion. Brief histories of three government programmes in the United States which have attempted to use participation to address poverty and social exclusion are then given. Themes emerging from these histories are outlined and their possible relevance for the South, as participation is increasingly used as an institutonalised strategy for addressing poverty.
This article is a case study of the author's participatory research with the Annette Lomond garment workers' co-operative in the North East of England. It discusses the relationship between the researcher and the participants, power imbalances, accountability, empowerment, effects of the research project, and presentation of findings. She concludes that the aim of uniting research with action and education is not always possible within one project. This alters the balance of the relationship and the nature of accountability.