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Participatory action research with self-help groups: An alternative paradigm for inquiry and action

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I have not sought here to make a case for participatory action research as theonly mode for inquiry and action with self-help groups, but to raise issues that may help counter the dominance of the conventional model and encourage a more pluralistic scientific enterprise. Researchers must be competent in and free to use (or try to use) whatever paradigms and techniques best fit their own epistemological preferences, the phenomena they wish to understand, and the goals and resources they and their coparticipants have. In particular, the assumptions and operating styles associated with PAR seem especially relevant and useful for inquiry and action that can advance knowledge about, and contribute to the effectiveness of, self-help groups. Dogma about “the proper scientific method” may suit the current scientific establishment and governmental funding agencies, but it does not necessarily lead to good research, research that is valid and useful to the scholarly community and to the self-help movement.

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Correspondence to Mark A. Chesler.

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Chesler, M.A. Participatory action research with self-help groups: An alternative paradigm for inquiry and action. Am J Commun Psychol 19, 757–768 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00938043

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  • Social Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • Scientific Method
  • Scientific Establishment
  • Participatory Action