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Research Urban and Regional Studies Institute PRC

What makes Participatory Action Research interventions work in practice?

Principal researcher

Myriam Hemsteede

Type of research

PhD research


Pr of. Inge Hutter

Prof. Frank Vanclay


I will be working on what makes ‘successful’ Participatory Action Research projects ‘work’ in practice. This by conducting theory driven evaluations of 3 successful PAR cases.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a research approach which explicitly aims at understanding and improving the studied situation together with the people involved. By doing so it contributes to two challenges I’m interested in. Namely how to make research useful for practice and secondly how to come up with relevant, acceptable and successful policy(programs)? The approach can be adopted for a wide range of topics and in many different ways, which makes it even more interesting for me.

By aiming at social change, PAR can be seen as a social intervention itself. As for any intervention it is worthwhile to know whether it actually works (does it really manage to change the situation) and -more importantly- to understand when and why it works. In my PhD I will try to answer these last questions. To do so I’ll be conducting a so-called theory driven evaluation of 3 PAR cases. In theory driven evaluations the focus is on explaining how certain outcomes are achieved. Several theoretical explanations are sought and subsequently empirically tested in case studies. The importance of the specific context (and its interplay with mechanisms operating in it and program outcomes) are emphasized. Initially, I will be looking into theories relating to communication, power and intrinsic motivation. The type of cases I’m interested in mostly combine Population, Health (and Development) and Environment issues.


  • Poster presentation “Sex & Population: It takes two!”  presented at the Dutch Demography Day, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 9th November, 2011 and at the  Population Footprints symposium, UCL, London, UK,25-26th May, 2011.
Last modified:07 August 2020 2.51 p.m.