Ledwith and Springett's innovative approach bridges the divide between ideas and practice and allows the development of the knowledge that is needed to bring about transformative social change.
Their ideas are founded on two premises: firstly, that transformative practice begins in the everyday stories that people tell about their lives and that practical theory generated from these narratives is the best way to inform both policy and practice. Secondly, that participatory practice is a tool for examining this knowledge that allows practitioners to examine the way they view the world and to situate their local practice within bigger social issues.
The book will be of interest to both academics and community-based practitioners.
"Provides an interesting and important approach to action research. Well written and engaging text." Kate Black, University of Chester
"Accesible, grounded in practice and theory, excellent introduction for final year students to key ideas" Jean Hatton, University of Huddersfield
"This book presents a sustained challenge to governments and international organisations, such as the World Bank, which claim to be signed up to people's participation. Community-based action should be about transformative change, as the book's subtitle suggests, and this deeply thoughtful book shows why and how it can be achieved. It is a very welcome addition to the impressive canon being developed by the authors." Professor Gary Craig, Ambassador and Past President,
International Association for Community Development
"Participatory research and popular education are key means to uncovering 'knowledge as if people mattered'. This superb book enriches our understanding of these areas, building on them to create an inclusive - and enticing - world view." Dr Alex Scott-Samuel, University of Liverpool
"I am delighted to see this book which envisions participatory practice as a 'practical utopia', a transformative way of seeing the world combined with practical approaches to change through emancipatory action research in community, with implications for health and well-being. In seeking to integrate the practical with the visionary, the authors are offering us a way of seeing our lives as community developers, health promoters, citizens and professionals as expressions of fundamental values such as freedom, equality, respect and reciprocity" Professor Peter Reason, Centre for Action Research in Professional Practice, University of Bath
Margaret Ledwith is Emeritus Professor of Community Development and Social Justice at the University of Cumbria. She is also one of the coordinators of the international Collaborative Action Research Network. For many years, she was a community worker/educator in Scotland and North-West England which forged the foundation of a lifetime commitment to social justice. She has written two previous books: "Community Development: A critical approach" (2005) and "Participating in Transformation: Towards a working model of community empowerment" (1997).
Jane Springett is Professor of Health Promotion and Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, where she facilitates a participatory action research group within the Institute for Health Research, and visiting professor at Kristianstad University, Sweden. She has a longstanding interest in ecological approaches to health and wellbeing which is informed by her background in human geography. She is passionately committed to participatory evaluation and co-edited the ground-breaking "Evaluation in Health Promotion".
Section one: A participatory paradigm: Introduction; Participatory practice; Troubled times; A participatory worldview; Participatory practice in a non-participatory world; Section two: Participatory praxis: The use of story; The role of dialogue; Critical reflection; Transformative practice; Becoming whole.