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I had never heard of this type of research, Participatory Action Research ( PAR), but I actually felt like it seemed to focus on community residents having more of an involvement in the research. The participants are knowledgeable in the issues because of discussions and interactions and those who will be involved in the change should take part in the research ( Schneider, Gruman & Coutts, 2012). According to the article on Psychology and Social Change, I think it’s great that communities which may have been taken advantage of could receive research to assisting in helping to find solutions to groups who have been overlooked ( Brydon-Miller, 1997). Positive social change should be the goal in most research. I like the idea where participants integrate their information, according to their strengths. Sometimes, what has been proven through research to work in some areas may not be what works everywhere and I feel like this is why this research is interesting to me. I also believe that trust and commitment are important in research. It reminds me of a group project I participated in two semesters ago where each participant is held responsible for a piece and everyone needs to be “on board” for the project to come out successfully. I did a project in health psychology and commitment to being on-line when everyone else was and trusting that each person would have the promised piece on the due date was so important. We had a “leader” who was wonderful in integrating every piece so that it sounded like it was coming from one person and we would all be in agreement at every step from the topic, to the general information, to making sure that the references were all valid for this particular project. It actually was sort of fun to stay so connected for those three weeks, especially since it was an on-line class and we never spoke face-to-face. I also feel like this type of research would invigorate other community members to want to get involved to make a difference.
I think that this could almost be a class that the undergraduates take to find solutions to problems in their communities, with the psychologist being the “leader.” . I definitely liked the example from East Lansing, Michigan where they were working with the homeless who resided in the community. This research is integrating the homeless into the minds of the community and assisting them with attention so that they can get out of this scenerio. Raising money and giving media attention along with those who had organized meetings is such an important step in this area. Also, in Chicago, Illinois, they are taking great steps to help African Americans in areas of help such as interviews and helping with communication skills which will hopefully allow them the same job opportunities.
Sometimes, in order to bring about change, members of the community have to feel like a part of something. Have you ever been approached by someone giving you information on promoting health, but you dismissed them, saying that you just “don’t have a minute to listen” . when actually you really do. You know that it’s important and eating all day at your desk has definitely added some inches to your stomach and less time to feel like going to exercise. Some companies are really focusing on health and allowing employees to exercise for 30 minutes during their work day and that is considered “work” so that exercise can be integrated into a workday. This type of research is becoming more and more important to help the community and empower the individual! I hope I see more of this research in my own community!
Brydon-Miller, M. (1997), Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues, 53: 657–666. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02454.x
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.