To Understand the World or to Change It? Research with a community panel Dr Julie Clark and & Ms Cat Tabbner

‘We believe passionately in the power of participatory action research to push us to challenge and unsettle existing structures of power and privilege, to provide opportunities for those least often heard to share their knowledge and wisdom, and for people to work together to bring about positive social change and to create more just and equitable political and social systems.’ (Brydon-Miller et al., 2011: 396)

The idea of a community panel is most often associated with marketing, generally where companies develop an ongoing relationship with a virtual ‘community of interest’ in order to understand and analyse customer needs. More recently, local governments have used community panels as a means of engaging with residents and attempting to foster more direct citizen involvement in decision-making. This session draws on the involvement of a community panel in a long-term research study. Established in 2005, the ambitious GoWell Research and Learning Programme focuses on the impact of investment in housing regeneration and neighbourhood renewal on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities in Glasgow. In the latter phases of the programme, the programme recruited a community panel of residents from the project study areas

As well as sharing ideas and experiences from this particular case study, the session aims to provoke wider consideration of ethics and impacts in relation to participative approaches:

  • When and how can participative practice be written into the research design?
  • How do you decide which people or groups you might aim to engage with?
  • How do you go about fostering a participative environment?
  • What are the potential implications, personally and professionally, for all involved in participative research?

Suggested Readings

Academic Articles

  • Brydon-Miller, M., Kral, M., Maguire, P., Noffke, S. and Sabhlok, A. (2011) Jazz and the Banyan Tree: Roots and riffs on participatory action research, in Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research, London: Sage, 387- 400.
  • Chevalier, J.M. and Buckles, D.J. (2013) Participatory Action Research: Theory and methods for engaged inquiry. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Mertens, D.M. (1999) Inclusive Evaluation: Implications of transformative theory for evaluation, American Journal of Evaluation 20(1): 1-14.
  • UNHRC (2005) Action for the Rights of Children Facilitator’s Toolkit - Reach Out Refugee Protection Training Project. Available at: www.unhcr.org/4371d7c92.pdf

Weblinks and resources:

Action-Base Research Methods (see, in particular PAR methodologies and sections on methods) on "Activist Research Methods":

Pain, R, Whitman, G., Milledge, D. and Lune Rivers Trust (2012) Participatory Action Research Toolkit: An introduction to using PAR as an approach to learning, research and action.

Porter, L., Jaconelli, M., Cheyne, J., Eby, D. and Wagenaar, H. (2009) 'Planning Displacement: The Real Legacy of Major Sporting Events “Just a person in a wee flat”: Being Displaced by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow's East End Olympian Masterplanning in London Closing Ceremonies: How Law, Policy and the Winter Olympics are Displacing an Inconveniently Located Low-Income Community in Vancouver Commentary: Recovering Public Ethos: Critical Analysis for Policy and Planning', Planning Theory & Practice, 10: 3, 395 — 418. DOI: 10.1080/14649350903229828

Resources and Presentation Recordings

Video from presentation- including copy of slides will be made available.

Slides from the workshop presentation are available to view below, click on the first slide to view as a slideshow.

What is the impact of investment in housing regeneration and neighbourhood renewal on the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities in Glasgow?

Delivery team bio:

Dr Julie Clark is a policy researcher with a special interest in the impacts of the urban environment on health and wellbeing. She lectures in Sociology and Social Policy at the University of the West of Scotland and also works an Associate Director of the Economic and Social Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership at the Scottish Graduate School for Social Science. Julie has given evidence to both Scottish and Local Government committees and presented research findings to a range of transport, health, housing, sports and leisure agencies. Her multi-stakeholder work with policy-makers, practitioners, community groups and schools has been recognised with a Research Council UK Award for Research Impact.

Ms Cat Tabbner is the Community Engagement and Empowerment Manager with Glasgow Centre for Population Health, where she works across the organisation to help investigate, develop, support and evaluate the contribution of Community Engagement and Empowerment (CEE) policy and practice in multidisciplinary efforts to reduce health inequalities by Glasgow’s public, third sector and community bodies. Cat has a Masters in Global Health at the University of Glasgow and a degree in Social Anthropology and French. Her creative and collaborative approaches to community engagement stems from a combination of her studies and practical experience in national public health projects and third sector community arts projects, including facilitating local communities and New Scots to explore experiences and heritage of living in high-rise flats in Glasgow.

Created By
Alison McCandlish


Photos by Alison McCandlish

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