New ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’ in Community-Based Participatory Research: Transforming professional identities and society through pedagogic rights

  • Edward Stevens

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


As a participatory, action-oriented approach to research, Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) plays a social role in the distribution of knowledge in civil society and democracy, re/framing whose and what knowledge ‘counts’ and resulting in co-produced praxis knowledge that effects social change. In drawing together academy and community members from disparate social worlds and invested in their own discourses, every CBPR project generates unique social arenas. It is these arenas that form the focus of this enquiry.

Specifically, I understand the arenas as ‘pedagogical spaces’ (Burke et al, 2017) where the professional social categories involved in CBPR – academics, charity workers, and volunteers – engage in pedagogic relations that re/shape their professional identities, their ways of ‘being’ and ‘doing’. This enquiry explores in-depth how identities evolve across the professional social categories in manners that enable, or constrain, individuals’ abilities to effect social change.

My research involves a qualitative case study of Engage, a programme of five CBPR projects. Through narrative inquiry and an arts-informed approach, I investigate the learning and identity experiences of Engage participants, analysing these through a Bernsteinian conceptual lens. Specifically, Bernstein’s concept of ‘pedagogic rights’ (2000) is deployed to explore how, through learning, people may drive social change. And his concept of ‘specialised identities’ (2001) is used to investigate whether participants’ professional identities evolve to enable them to act meaningfully within CBPR.

Given my dataset, I expound a CBPR specialised identity comprising multiple components that empower individuals to participate and to take social justice-oriented actions that effect micro, meso, and macro-level social changes. Identities are transformative due to access to pedagogic rights. However, I also note a range of barriers to the adoption of specialised identities, including the nefarious impact of neoliberal pressures and the presence of strongly bounded professional identities. Such barriers delimit potential for outcomes in a knowledge democracy.
Date of Award19 Feb 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorAndrea Abbas (Supervisor) & Richard Watermeyer (Supervisor)


  • community-based participatory research
  • professional identity
  • pedagogic rights
  • specialised identity
  • pedagogical spaces
  • Bernstein
  • knowledge democracy
  • civil society
  • praxis knowledge

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