The International Handbook on Social Innovation
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The International Handbook on Social Innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Edited by Frank Moulaert, Diana MacCallum, Abid Mehmood and Abdelillah Hamdouch

The contributors provide an overview of theoretical perspectives, methodologies and instructive experiences from all continents, as well as implications for collective action and policy. They argue strongly for social innovation as a key to human development. The Handbook defines social innovation as innovation in social relations within both micro and macro spheres, with the purpose of satisfying unmet or new human needs across different layers of society. It connects social innovation to empowerment dynamics, thus giving a political character to social movements and bottom-up governance initiatives. Together these should lay the foundations for a fairer, more democratic society for all.
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Chapter 25: Reflections on the form and content of Participatory Action Research and implications for social innovation research

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Len Arthur


The history of Participatory Action Research (PAR) raises issues relating to the relationship between the form of social research, i.e. methodological processes, and its content, i.e. phenomena, social context, values and purpose. Form and content issues have, in turn, implications for the emancipatory concerns of social innovation research with respect to the relationship of epistemology and methodology. This chapter will first review form and content issues involved in the historical experience of PAR and then, second, review the epistemic warrant of case studies and the extent to which PAR may make a contribution to this through the application of transitional demands and actions, which act as a bridge between the experience of social exclusion and the implementation of emancipatory possibilities.

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