Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion


  • Jarg Bergold Freie Universität Berlin
  • Stefan Thomas Alice-Salomon-Hochschule



academic requirements, ethical norms, focus group, degrees of participation, quality criteria, interview, marginalization, participatory research methods, reflexivity, subjectivity, safe space


This article serves as an introduction to the FQS special issue "Participatory Qualitative Research." In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in participatory research strategies. The articles in this special issue come from different disciplines. Against the background of concrete empirical research projects, they address numerous conceptual considerations and methodological approaches. After reading the contributions, and engaging with the authors' arguments, we were prompted to focus in particular on those areas in which further work needs to be done. They include, on the one hand, fundamental principles of participatory research, such as democratic-theory considerations, the concept of "safe space," participation issues, and ethical questions. And, on the other hand, we focus on practical research considerations regarding the role and tasks of the various participants; specific methodological approaches; and quality criteria—understood here in the sense of arguments justifying a participatory approach. Our aim is to stimulate a broad discussion that does not focus only on participatory research in the narrower sense. Because participatory methodology poses certain knowledge- and research-related questions in a radical way, it has the potential to draw attention to hitherto neglected areas in qualitative methodology and to stimulate their further development.



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Author Biographies

Jarg Bergold, Freie Universität Berlin

Professor em. Dr. Jarg BERGOLD studied law and psychology in Saarbrücken and Freiburg. He worked as a clinical psychologist and behavioral therapist in Munich, London, and Bern, and has been a Professor of Clinical Psychology and Community Psychology at the Department of Education and Psychology of the Freie Universität Berlin since 1974. His current research activities are within the framework of a participatory research project with the members of the St. Ursula Homeless Shelter in Offenburg and a project on the "Creativity of Visual Artists in Old Age."

Stefan Thomas, Alice-Salomon-Hochschule

Dr. Stefan THOMAS studied psychology at the Freie Universität Berlin, where he also did his PhD. Currently a Visiting Professor of Qualitative Social Research at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences in Berlin, he has recently been appointed Professor of Empirical Social Research and Social Work at Potsdam University (Social Work Faculty).



How to Cite

Bergold, J., & Thomas, S. (2012). Participatory Research Methods: A Methodological Approach in Motion. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1).