Roundtable: Participation and participatory methods in migration research

Round table to be held on the 14th IMISCOE Annual Conference (theme Migration, Diversity and City) which will be held in Rotterdam, 28-30th June 2017.


The aim of the round table is to bring together scholars with expertise on participatory methods and research experiences carried out in liaison with institutions and groups beyond Academia, to discuss the possibilities, limits and challenges of participation.

Different institutions are currently promoting participation and societal involvement in research. For instance, the RRI-Responsible Research and Innovation approach promoted in the European Horizon 2020 research framework, makes an explicit call for including different societal actors during the whole research process in order to align its outcomes to the values, needs and expectations of European society. Although no one would in principle be against increasing participation of society in research, there has been little discussion on how participation is actually understood. As Sherry R. Arnstein (1969) stated in her now seminal text on citizen participation, participation can in fact be a burden for those participating if participation does not imply a redistribution of power, leading to frustration and disenchantment[i]. This round table aims to be a forum for interdisciplinary discussion around the value of participatory mechanisms in research projects.

Migration ia a political and societal sensitive issue. Therefore, the participation of different actors (policy makers, educators, organizations of the civil society, but particularly research subjects themselves) in migration research is of particular relevance. Participatory methodologies have been extensively applied in clinical research, and to a lesser extend in development studies. There are also interesting initiatives, albeit small-scale ones, applying participatory methods in migration research. They are usually small and unconnected projects. This round table will provide a venue for sharing projects carried out in different parts of Europe.

The round table seeks to:

  • Assess to which extent participation of non-academic actors has been implemented in ethnic and migration studies.
  • Critically reflect on the ways participation has been appropriated in research by considering questions such as: participation of whom? For what purposes? Under which circumstances?
  • Draft a state of the art of the main features and approaches of participatory methods being implemented in the field of migration research.
  • Bring together colleagues using participatory methods in migration research throughout Europe.
  • Shape a potential future research agenda.

[i] Arnstein, S.R. (1969) A Ladder of Citizen Participation. Journal of the American Institute of Planners 35(4): 216-224.