In this article, we report on follow-up research to the “Lone Mothers: Building Social Inclusion” project, a cross-Canada study which utilized a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology to investigate the experiences of single mothers on social assistance in a changing socio-political context. We analyzed the study’s peer-interviewing approach in detail. Findings suggest that PAR theory was applied in the Lone Mothers project in ways that cultivated and sustained authentic relationships, contributed to individual and social change, and minimized hierarchy. The effects of this commitment to the epistemology and values of PAR led to a non-linear and organic research process yielding high quality data. We contribute to PAR literature and the utilization of peer-interviewers through scrutinizing this methodology’s potential and challenges. We contend that PAR’s greatest transformative potential might come from building authentic and transformative relationships within research processes that facilitate robust data collection and divergent and innovative analytic perspectives.


participatory action research; peer-interview; peer research; lone mothers; social welfare

Author Bio(s)

Lea Caragata is an associate professor, School of Social Work, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Please direct correspondence to lea.caragata@ubc.ca.

Jen Vasic is a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Please direct correspondence to jenvasic@gmail.com.


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), a Canadian federal research funding agency, funded the Lone Mothers research project through their Community University Research Alliance granting stream. This article is based on a follow-up study to the Lone Mothers research project and did not receive any specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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