Below is the abstract of a paper to appear in the journal Children, Youth and Environments. This PAR research was supported by the Center for the Study of Boys’ Lives.

The co-construction of knowledge in “safe spaces”: Reflecting on politics, power and the use of participatory action research to study violence in an Independent Boys’ School


This paper documents the use of participatory action research (PAR) to study school violence at a prestigious American single sexed Independent School. Participatory action researchers work hard to build relationships in spaces that feel trusting and comfortable to expand the depth of their data, avoid exploitation, and improve the usefulness of their action. These physical and intellectual “safe spaces” developed during research interactions are where knowledge is co-constructed and therefore deserve close methodological and theoretical consideration. I examine the “safe spaces” developed in the training, data collections and interpretation phases of our PAR project. I pay close attention to the way our data were produced through socially constructed interactions. I suggest that politics and power are necessarily negotiated and fundamentally linked to the production of knowledge in PAR “safe spaces.”

Brett G. Stoudt

The Graduate Center, City University of New York