This paper addresses the dilemma that emerges when theorizing agency within the participatory logic of Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects. Insomuch as PAR projects contest ubiquitous blaming-the-victim discourses, they often do so by stressing the structure of exploitation at the expense of individual autonomy. At the same time, however, PAR methods work to produce or strengthen the agency of all the participants, thereby stressing that structural determination is not an inevitable or ontological fact. I assess how PAR researchers have negotiated this framing problematic and then introduce critical geographic theories of scale as one way to re-frame this tension. Ultimately, by adopting the theoretical viewpoint of the production of scale, the researcher can focus on how the scale of individual bodies is produced at a variety of levels. Emphasis is placed on the mutability of these scalar productions and that PAR work—when framed as a politics of scale—inherently ‘bends’ scales.
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