What is democracy? Freedom, equality, participation? Everyone has his or her own definition. Across the world countries have a least the minimum trappings of democracy, but for many this is just the beginning. Following decades of US-backed dictatorships, civil wars and structural adjustment policies in the South, and corporate control, electoral corruption and fraud in the North, representative politics in the Americas is in crisis. Citizens are now choosing to redefine democracy under their own terms: local, direct and participatory. In Brazil, they have installed participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre, in Venezuela President Chavez came to power with the promise of granting direct participation to the people, and all across the Americas social movements and constitutional assemblies are taking authority away from the ruling elites and putting power into the hands of their members and citizens. This DVD features interviews with Eduardo Galeano, Amy Goodman, Emir Sader, Martha Harnecker, Ward Churchill and Leonardo Avritzer as well as cooperative and community members, elected representatives, academics and activists from Brazil, Canada, Venezuela, Argentina, United States, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and more. It takes us on a journey across the Americas in an attempt to answer the question "What is Democracy?"
Collaborative/cooperative inquiry (CI) is both a method for engaging in new pardigm human inquiry and a strategy for facilitating adult learning. Adult educators who use CI institutional settings must be aware of potential corrupting influences. The authors alert educators to three factors interjected by institutional affiliation that challenge the integrity of the CI process: financial support, power inequities and reporting requirements. These factors are examined in three different contexts: inquiries used for dissertation research, inquiries in the workplace conducted for proessional development, and multiple inquiry projects sponsored by an instituion to serve its mission.
Close relationships between researchers and participants engaged in a feminst participatory action research project have brought joy and insight, but also challenges. Through the project the authors collaborate to enhance participants' careers and, among some, develop feminst consciousness. This paper discusses methodological and ethical issues that derive from the closeness of the relationships between many of the participants and the authors themelves. Subjectivities are explored, the issues associated with interpreting participants' stories, actions and conversations, the risk of perpetuating uncritical assimilation or colonisation for Maori participants, and the challenge of matching practice with ideals of emancipation for all women.
Participatory action research is presented as a social research method and process and as a goal that social research should always strive to achieve. This paper describes the key features and strengths of participatory action research, and briefly analyses its role in promoting social change through organisational learning in three very different kinds of organisations. It is argued that participatory action research is always an emergent process that can often be intensified and that works effectively to link participation, social action and knowledge generation.
Feminist discourses of (dis)empowerment in an action research project involving rural women and communication technologies
Women's empowerment is a central aim of feminist action research. However, due to the many contradictory discourses of empowerment, it has become a contested concept. Drawing on poststructuralist theories of power-knowledge, discourse and subjectivity, this article critically analyses the discourses identified in an Australian feminist action research porjcect involving rural women, academics and industry partners. This project aimed to empower women to discuss and use interactive communication technologies (ICTs). This analysis highlights the contradictory effects of the egalitarian and expert discourses that were identified, and the multiple, often conflicting, subject positions that were taken up by the researchers and participants. Our analysis suggests that discourses of empowerment and disempowerment intersect and interpenetrate one another, and highlights some of the dangers and contradictions associated with feminist participatory action research. We argue that a poststructuralist appproach to analysis and critical reflexivity can lessen the "impossible burden" on academic feminists engaged in emancipatory research.
This paper describes the process of developing a participatory monitoring and evaluation strategy for a Kenyan youth-based NGO. The iterative nature of the study including the process of narrowing down indicators to measure and methods to monitor/evaluate these is well documented. A discussion on the extent to which the process achieved participation and was empowering for the participants reflects on existing power relationships and cultural context of Kenya and points to the need to create opportunities for youth where they engage with the broader community. Lessons that emerge out of the study focus on the importance of prioritizing monitoring and evaluation, the potential of youth to carry out effective monitoring and evaluation, and the need for researchers to engage respectfully with communities and participants.