Levelling the playing fields in PAR: the intricacies of power, privilege, and participation in a University-Community-School Partnership
Wood, Lesley Angelina
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When academics, who occupy a traditional position of power and privilege, engage with community members whose thinking, attitudes, and responses have been shaped by ongoing sociohistorical oppression and disadvantage, democratic participation is not easy to attain. Yet, unless community members feel able to participate freely, the valuable local knowledge they bring to the project will be lost and the learning will again be based on theories that may have little relevance for them. We explain how power relations can be leveled through the utilization of specific strategies within a participatory action research design. Seven community members and five teachers collaborated to develop a program that the community members would later use to educate parents about how to better support their children academically. Informed by a qualitative analysis of visual and textual data generated in several working sessions for this project, findings indicate that, while the flattening of power relations is an ongoing and complex task, specific strategies can be used to "level the playing fields" and negotiate the intricacies of power, privilege, and participation.
- Faculty of Education