Can Participatory Action Research “Empower” Participants in Adult Educational Studies?

A Marxist-Feminist Analysis

  • Yidan Zhu University of Toronto


Participatory Action Research (PAR), as a research methodology, challenges conventional, positivist and scientific approaches. Current studies on PAR in adult educational studies explore how to develop PAR to enhance research practice and further the “democratizing aims of adult education” (Joyappa & Martin, 1996). The history of PAR as a part of adult educational movements has been developed for social justice and social change (Glassman, Erdem & Bartholomew, 2013). Yet, while conducting PAR in adult education with the commitment of “empowering” the oppressed, researchers sometimes overlook unequal social and power relations behind PAR, restrictions from institutional power, and tensions between local practice and currents of global neoliberalization. This reflective paper adopts a Marxist-feminist theoretical framework to review the historical development of PAR in adult education, and analyzes the limitations of “empowering” adult participants through PAR.

How to Cite
Zhu, Y. (2019). Can Participatory Action Research “Empower” Participants in Adult Educational Studies?. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 31(01). Retrieved from
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