Political and ethical dilemmas in multi-agency participatory research: the role of the buffer zone

Bennett, H. and Brunner, R. (2022) Political and ethical dilemmas in multi-agency participatory research: the role of the buffer zone. Methodological Innovations, 15(3), pp. 387-399. (doi: 10.1177/20597991221129775)

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The ‘buffer zone’ frames the contested space that university researchers must persistently animate and mediate to successfully pursue participatory research with public and third sector partners. This article explores this conceptualisation through a consideration of political and ethical dilemmas in participatory research practice. We contend that participatory researchers must identify, respond to and reflect on everyday and momentous dilemmas by combining technical, relational and political skills. We illustrate this by drawing on extensive collaborative action research conducted with public service partners as part of the What Works Scotland programme (2014–2019). By critically reflecting on university research realities, this article shares insights into complex multi-agency participatory research dilemmas; offers methodological, conceptual, ethical and political evidence to help university researchers navigate such contexts, notably by engaging the buffer zone and finally, considers how universities and research funders should better support participatory research practices.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council and Scottish Government, grant number ES/M003922/1.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brunner, Dr Richard
Authors: Bennett, H., and Brunner, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Methodological Innovations
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):2059-7991
Published Online:11 October 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Methodological Innovations 15(3): 387-399
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190851What Works ScotlandNicholas WatsonEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/M003922/1S&PS - Institute of Health & Wellbeing (Social Sciences)