Participatory action research (PAR) as democratic disruption: new public management and educational research in schools and universities

Gary Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Pro-market and business approaches to management in the public sector (new public management–NPM) have created an audit culture in schools driven by top-down, high stakes accountability, and the fetishization of data. Within this context, authentic, qualitative, and democratic forms of inquiry, both in universities and schools, become easily co-opted. I argue in this article that the use of a community-based, participatory action research (PAR) stance has the potential to disrupt NPM and open up authentic and democratic spaces in which to engage in inquiry. The goal of democratization through a PAR stance is not an attempt to return to a pre-data driven past nor to make current neoliberal reforms more palatable, but rather to create more horizontal relationships among professionals, colleges of education, public schools, and low-income communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-449
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 28 2017



  • Neoliberal
  • action research
  • new public management
  • participatory action research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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