Participatory Action Research With People With Disabilities: Exploring Experiences Of Participation

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Radermacher, Harriet L (2006) Participatory Action Research With People With Disabilities: Exploring Experiences Of Participation. Other Degree thesis, Victoria University.


The social model of disability requires that research about disability should be controlled and managed by people with disabilities themselves. Traditional research has tended to marginalise people with disabilities, and the outcomes have been meaningless and irrelevant to them. Three years ago I approached a small disability advocacy organisation, and through six months of collaboration with Disability Justice Advocacy (DJA), the need for a strategic plan was identified. Developing a strategic plan for DJA became a vehicle for exploring the primary aim of my research, which was to conduct participatory action research with people with disabilities, and to examine its value as an empowering research practice. The literature indicates that while participation, and participatory action research in particular, has the potential to empower people with disabilities, it can also serve to disempower them. This study draws on the experiences of participation in this process, both from the perspective of the participants (six board and six staff members) and myself, as the researcher. Thematic analysis of the interview data identified barriers to participation at different levels of intervention. At an intrapersonal level, competence of people with disabilities emerged as a critical issue for DJA. This issue resonated with my own experience of the process and, through ongoing critical reflexivity, revealed that underlying ableist attitudes (i.e. attitudes based on non-disabled standards) reinforce the ongoing victimisation and oppression experienced by people with disabilities. This study builds on current knowledge regarding the role and tensions of a community psychologist working with a social justice agenda with people with disabilities.

Additional Information

Doctor of Applied Psychology

Item type Thesis (Other Degree thesis)
Subjects Historical > RFCD Classification > 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Social Sciences and Psychology
Keywords participatory action research; disabilities; exploring experiences; participation
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