The growth of participatory research in recent years has been notable. This paper considers its potential for empowering disadvantaged communities and providing a route for overcoming social exclusion. Problems of definition and key challenges for undertaking participatory research are reviewed based upon work undertaken in a deprived community in Scotland. Opportunities exist for researchers and community developers together to develop participatory approaches. A principal role for researchers is in bridging the gap between service users and policy makers, funders and other service providers by working with service users to demonstrate the impact of social exclusion. The authors conclude that participatory research merits close attention as long as its difficulties are acknowledged. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2007 All rights reserved
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