CSSL research advances knowledge of social impact in the service of social action and social change.
CSSL prioritizes participatory action research, an approach to research in communities that emphasizes participation and action. Participatory action research emphasizes collective inquiry and experimentation grounded in experience and social history (Reason, P. and Bradbury, H. (2008) (eds) The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Participative Inquiry and Practice). Participatory action practitioners make a concerted effort to integrate three basic aspects of their work: participation (life in society and democracy), action (engagement with experience and history), and research (soundness in thought and the growth of knowledge; Chevalier, J.M. and Buckles, D.J. (2013) Participatory Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry).
Researchers, practitioners and beneficiaries all play an active role. Researchers engage with practitioners and beneficiaries in defining research goals, designs and methods. Practitioners help frame research goals, data collection methods, interpretation of findings and dissemination of results. Beneficiaries help to conceptualize the research, research design, data collection and dissemination.