Article

A theory-based model of translation practices in public health participatory research

Direction de Santé Publique de Montréal (Montreal Public Health Directorate), Canada Department of Sociology, University of Montreal, Canada.
Sociology of Health & Illness (Impact Factor: 1.88). 09/2011; 34(5):791-805. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2011.01408.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This article explores the innovative practices of actors specifically mandated to support interactions between academic researchers and their partners from the community during public health participatory research. Drawing on the concept of translation as developed in actor-network theory and found in the literature on knowledge transfer and the sociology of intermediate actors, we build a theory-based model of the translation practices developed by these actors at the interface between community and university. We refine this model by using it to analyse material from two focus groups comprising participants purposively selected because they work at the nexus between research and practice. Our model of translation practices includes cognitive (dealing with the contents of the research), strategic (geared to facilitating the research process and balancing power relationships among the partners) and logistic practices (the hands-on tasks of coordination). Combined, these three types of translation practices demonstrate that actors working at the interface in participatory research contribute to multidirectional exchanges and the co-construction of knowledge among research partners. Beyond the case of participatory research, theorising translation practices helps understand how knowledge is produced at the interface between academic and experiential (or lay) knowledge.

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