Participation as Entangled Self Assertion


  • Meagan Call-Cummings George Mason University
  • Barbara Dennis Indiana University



knowledge production, participation, ethnography, critical participatory action research, entanglement, agency


In this article, we explore the concept of participation, tracing the history of how participation has been understood and used in ethnographic and critical participatory action research methodological traditions. Within this exploration we push on the limits and boundaries of our ordinary conceptions of "participation," presenting and working through scenarios from our fieldwork in which we took for granted an ordinary concept of participation. As we work through these scenarios we encounter participation first as rebellion, then as resistance, and finally as entangled self-assertion, as opportunities for establishing one's dignity and worthwhileness in an institutional context that diminishes or denies recognition of one's dignity and worthwhileness. This notion of participation as a mode of self-dignity speaks back to the way in which knowledge is not neutral for self and is not separate of self.


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Author Biographies

Meagan Call-Cummings, George Mason University

Meagan CALL-CUMMINGS, PhD, is an assistant professor of qualitative methodology in the School of Education, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, USA, where she is engaged in research around issues of social justice in education, broadly conceived. Meagan's research relates to understanding the ethical, onto-epistemological, and methodological implications of university-school partnerships and adult-youth research engagements. Meagan uses critical qualitative, critical participatory action research, and arts-based methodologies and methods in her work and always strives to ensure her research is meaningfully collaborative and participatory so that the knowledge created will honor and value the (often marginalized, silenced, or overlooked) experiences and expertise of those closest to an issue, question, or problem.

Barbara Dennis, Indiana University

Barbara DENNIS is a professor of inquiry methodology in the School of Education at Indiana University. She is a social justice activist and researcher who works with collaborator-participants in efforts to transform oppression and injustice. She engages creatively with methodologies, social theories, and social conditions, including the production of knowledge.




How to Cite

Call-Cummings, M., & Dennis, B. (2019). Participation as Entangled Self Assertion. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 20(2).