PASAR - Participation Arts and social Action in Research


This project on research methods addresses the UK social science community's need to gain a better understanding of how participatory action research approaches engage marginalised groups in research as co-producers of knowledge. It combines walking methods and participatory theatre to create a space for exploring, sharing and documenting processes of belonging and place-making that are crucial to understanding and enacting citizenship. Participatory Action Research, based on the principles of inclusion, valuing all voices and action-oriented interventions allows for engaging marginalized
groups into research as a citizenship practice. By doing so the project contributes to the NCRM's methodological initiative and the interest shown by social science researchers to address the methodological problems associated with researching hard to reach communities. It is also relevant to the ESRC's thematic priorities 'Influencing Behaviour' and 'A Vibrant and Fair Society'.

The project is original by creating a model for bringing together practitioners and marginalized groups to engage with each other through creative methods and innovates by developing a toolkit for training social researchers in walking stories and theatre. The project develops methods and methodological knowledge of participatory theatre and walking methods through three well integrated strands of (i) participatory methods with migrant parents' and young people on intergenerational communication (ii) participatory methods with families with no recourse to public funds in conversation with policy-practice; and, (iii) building upon this, developing training tools for social science research will be undertaken in collaboration and consultation with a theatre practitioner, Counterpoints Arts and the
Runnymede Trust.

Three core strands combine to achieve these aims:

Strand 1: Generating Research Data - explores the potential of participatory methods for generating new methodological datasets and insights into migrant families' intergenerational relations. It combines 3 walking story sessions, to produce visual data which will initiate the theatre scenes in the following 8 participatory theatre sessions with two groups: migrant parents and young people. A day-long Learning Lab in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts helps to produce digital resources on the value of these methods for research with marginalized groups.

Strand 2: Engagement with Policy-Practice - focuses on potential and pitfalls of the participatory theatre and walking stories methods for engaging policy-practice and marginalized participants in the co-production of knowledge around the specific policy issue of ‘No Recourse to Public Funding’ (NRPF), a policy restricting migrants' participation in society. Families affected by NRPF will participate in the walking stories and participatory theatre, particularly the technique of 'legislative theatre'. In collaboration with Runnymede Trust we will produce a multimedia briefing pack on the value of these methods to policy and practice.

Strand 3: Training for Researchers in Walking Stories and Participatory Theatre - The resources and materials developed in strand 1 and 2 will be used to develop a toolkit and courses for training social science researchers, benefitting the wider social science research community. Training and capacity building is integral to the project. The outputs will leave a legacy beyond the duration of the project. In addition, to delivering training through the project strands above, the team will contribute training workshops/sessions through NCRM's programme of events and the Research Methods Festival, the
project website will give access to multimedia training and briefing materials for social researchers and practitioners and policy makers working with marginalized groups.


From the Margins to Centre Stage: Migrant families challenging the effects of the No Recourse to Public Funds Policy, 6 December 2017, House of Commons Palace of Westminster




Migrant Mothers: creative interventions into citizenship. openDemocracy article


Modelling Engagement: Using theatre-based workshops to explore citizenship and research participation. LSE Impact Blog


Podcast about using creative methods to research migration and citizenship - Dr Umut Erel


Article about Particitpatory Research with Families with No Recourse to Public Funds




PI: Umut Erel, Open University
CI: Tracey Reynolds, University of Greenwich
CI: Maggie O'Neill, Durham University
Research Fellow: Erene Kaptani