Social Change and Participatory Research

Social change has had participatory research as one of the methods that are used whenever a study aimed towards social change is being conducted and over time it has been the efficient method that spurs social change. However, everything is subject to scrutiny to know whether there are contrasting ideas or there are existing similarities.

To begin with the first contrast, social change has been successful after the employment participatory research has been employed because it helps determine how the information is to be used in addressing the concerns they have articulated, utilizes a variety of other approaches like community seminars, and has enabled mass action that causes social change. That is to say, social change comes after participatory research.

Another key concept noticed is that for social change to be effective participatory research is meant to be applied collectively and following precise steps while social change comes later as the result end where there are no formulae needed to reach the result end. The procedures in the participatory require commitment from individuals and trust to effectively see their implementation while on the side of social change it requires neither of this but the result end is expected to be either functional or no social change will take place.

In contrast, participative research involves the application of long-lasting skills by the participants in their quest to solving a problem thus, participatory research is a product that spreads outside the research task itself. The effort in participative research is on the insertion of the members and their societies inside the procedure and the applied result, rather eliminating the procedure from its setting. While in the social change all the efforts and steps that are taken by the participatory research are not considered but the achievable results aimed towards the social change is keenly looked upon.

The primary similarities also have been cited between the two, firstly, from the two methods is that persons and not only scholars from a society collaboratively strategize and actively contribute in the research procedure but also the result end is very vital. Noticeably, they both create new acquaintance through the procedures of solving real difficulties while also refining the bulk of persons in the group. To mean all methods requires the contribution and participation of researchers, including management, in manipulative the procedures with researchers as a group through implementing the results.

The methods though put under contrasts, and similarity by scholars, they work collectively towards one aim of achieving one goal of social change which societal institutions are expected to work towards through the set institutions like security, education, and others which change with shifts in other institutions and thus they mutually depend upon each other for their functionality.



Mary Brydon-Miller (1997) Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Retrieved from

Pennsylvania State University (2017). Psych 424: Social Change and Participatory Research. Retrieved from

1 comment

  1. Carolyn Anne Reidy

    Interesting post! I like that you discussed how different methods must work collaboratively together in order to create social change, and the mutually dependent relationship between social change/participatory research and social institutions. The cyclical relationship has the potential to magnify both positive and negative aspects in the process of creating/encouraging social change. Sometimes institutions–for example, a university–fund and produce research, and sometimes they themselves enact change as a result of relevant research. For example, in recent years the issue of sexual assault on college campuses has become extremely prevalent, due in part to a culture more willing to hear victims and address injustices than it has been in the past, and in part to social research, which has provided us with sobering and shocking statistics regarding how widespread of an issue sexual assault on college campuses really is: around 1 in 5 women experience sexual assault in college (O’Conner, 2016). Having access to this kind of information is important for colleges that want to create effective programs to make their campuses safer environments. However, as often happens, we are now in a situation where the problem is evident, but people disagree strongly on what the solutions are. I think if both universities and policymakers collaborated more often and more directly with social scientists and researchers, and integrated participatory research (where survivors can give relevant and helpful input), we might have an easier time actually implementing solutions on a wide scale, rather than getting so wrapped up in arguments about exactly what to do that we don’t end up doing much of anything at all.

    Great post!



    O’Connor, L., & Kingkade, T. (2016, June 24). If You Don’t Get Why Campus Rape Is A National Problem, Read This. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from

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