Reflections on Participatory Action Research: The Case of Low-Income Women Accessing Local Physical Activity services

in Journal of Sport Management
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In contrast to traditional approaches to research, participatory action research calls for the active involvement of the community—including both the beneficiaries and providers of sport services—in defining research problems, executing interventions, interpreting results, and designing strategies to change existing power structures. The purpose of this paper was to analyze a participatory action research project designed to increase the access of women living below the poverty line and their families to local physical activity services. A framework developed by Green et al. (1995) formed the basis of the analysis. To place the analysis in context, the historical origins and theoretical assumptions underlying participatory action research were addressed. The case of the Women's Action Project demonstrated how the process can result in a more inclusive local sport system and, at the same time, provide a rich setting for examining organizational dynamics including collaborative decision-making, community partnerships, power imbalances, resource control, resistance to change, and nonhierarchical structures.

Wendy Frisby is with the School of Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1. Susan Crawford is with the Gerontology Research Program at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC. Therese Dorer is Recreation Program Coordinator at Kamloops Parks and Recreation Services, Kamloops, BC.

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