EMPOWERMENT IN PARTICIPATORY ACTION RESEARCH CONDUCTED IN MALAYSIA
Participatory action research advocates participation and egalitarian relationship among its participants. This study was conducted in Malaysia amongst the Malay society, where the Malay society has been labelled as having high power distance in its social structure. In a society that recognizes status differences among individuals in the society depending on their rank in the hierarchical structure, egalitarian or equal relationship among research participants could be quite problematic. This paper will outline the Malays social hierarchy and explore how members of a hierarchical society became empowered through a participatory action research. Through qualitative methods such as observation, informal conversations, journal reflections and semi-structured interviews, this study investigated the experiences of the two Malay teachers in negotiating the Western-based concepts in a participatory action research project. Due to the importance of reflection and action in a participatory action research, data was analysed through a Critical Reflective Analysis Steps (Author, 2013) which included the process of observing and noting personal reflections, confronting and thinking, and taking action. Findings suggest that through participatory action research, the participants of the research were somewhat empowered to challenge their traditional role in the hierarchical structure.
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