"Stars in the Arena?" Democracy Theory and its Implications for Participatory Research


  • Monika Götsch Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
  • Sabine Klinger Philipps-Universität Marburg
  • Andreas Thiesen HAWK – Hochschule




exclusion, inclusion, power, participation, participatory research, participatory methods, beginners mind


Participatory methods aim to democratize and critique societies. However, their understanding of democracy has never been questioned. It is crucial to undertake such an analysis in order to fullyrecognize the critical potential of research  employing a participatory approach. Looking at participatory research we raise the following questions: Who are the real “stars” within participatory research and why? Who is participating and for what reasons, to what extent of time and at which phase of the research process? We argue that participatory research can only reach its full potential if one applies for example insights of democracy theory to it. In our approach we reject conceptions of democracy that are based on one-sided majorities and polarizations of power. We see the essential indicator for participatory research of high quality in its capability to question power relations and power distributions within the socialarena. This implies that participatory research maintains a critical watch on the reciprocity between researchers and research participants.. It further calls for a transparent method and the possibility for different parties to contribute in order to render the research productive for everybody involved.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs120140


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Author Biographies

Monika Götsch, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg

Sabine Klinger, Philipps-Universität Marburg

Sabine KLINGER, Mag. (*1982), seit 2009 Kollegiatin des Promotionskollegs "Geschlechterverhältnisse im Spannungsfeld von Arbeit, Organisation und Demokratie" an der Philipps-Universität Marburg, seit 2009 Kollegiatin des Graduiertenkollegs der Gender Studies der Universität CH-Basel, Mitglied der Peer-Mentoring-Gruppe "QUALIzüri – Forschungswerkstatt für qualitative Sozialforschung" an der Universität Zürich, Promotionsstipendiatin der Hans-Böckler-Stiftung. Themenschwerpunkte: Sozialisations- und Bildungsforschung, Geschlechterforschung und Gendertheorien, feministische Mädchenarbeit, qualitative Sozialforschung.

Andreas Thiesen, HAWK – Hochschule

Andreas THIESEN, Dr. phil., M.A. (*1979), Verwaltungsprofessor für Planung und Entwicklung Sozialer Arbeit an der Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst (HAWK) in Holzminden. Themenschwerpunkte: Planung und Entwicklung Sozialer Arbeit, Diversity Studies, Stadtsoziologie, qualitative Sozialforschung.



How to Cite

Götsch, M., Klinger, S., & Thiesen, A. (2012). "Stars in the Arena?" Democracy Theory and its Implications for Participatory Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-13.1.1780