This study examines the development and impact of participatory methodologies (PMs) in Mexico, and forms part of the wider research programme Pathways to Participation.
The material for this paper was gathered from interviews and workshops with practitioners of PMs across Mexico, and includes three case studies drawn from contrasting initiatives promoted by organisations as disparate as research institutes, state and federal government, and the World Bank.
Generally, PMs and particularly PRA are found to have theoretical and methodological weaknesses in the Mexican context, in relation to knowledge and respect for rural reality and practices, and recognition of opportunities for its transformation.
The study suggests a need to adapt these methods to the political context of conflict and socio-cultural diversity, and to address the challenge of developing an ethical code for implementing participatory processes, and of how to scale up and deepen the achievements of each intervention in the countryside.
PRA has been adopted and modified by many practitioners to suit the local context, but the challenge of this modified PRA continues to be finding a balance between respect for the practice, knowledge and institutions of a community, and the use of educational methods that question and challenge injustices in the established order.