The Company of Neighbours: Revitalizing Community Through Action-Research


141 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7905-9
DDC 361.2'5




Jeffrey M. Karabanow is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Social Work
at Wilfrid Laurier University.


Participatory action research is emerging as a popular tool with which
to describe and explore social phenomena. In its basic form, action
research is based on a belief in the primacy of participants’ voices,
leads to constructed knowledge that is local and practical, and implies
a commitment to act on that knowledge.

The Company of Neighbours is the story of Hespeler, a small town in
Western Ontario, and its struggle to reclaim a sense of community
through action research. The authors’ research project—The Company
of Neighbours—was a catalyst in bringing Hespeler residents together
and allowing them to define their needs and search out collective
solutions. Rather than expert-driven community development, The Company
of Neighbours emerged as a “symbolic space ” wherein residents could
reconnect with one another, share common experiences, and rebuild
competencies. The authors acted as facilitators and guides, reflecting
and interpreting what was being expressed by participants.

The project yielded a number of concrete benefits, including “the
Great Hespeler Reunion,” which attracted over 50,000 visitors. This
historic weekend proved to Hespelerites that they possessed the
strength, knowledge, and drive to “get things done, their way.” The
Company of Neighbours highlights important “lessons from the field”
for social scientists embarking on their own action research.


Banks, C. Kenneth, and J. Marshall Mangan., “The Company of Neighbours: Revitalizing Community Through Action-Research,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,