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Shifting perceptions, changing practices in PRA: from infinite innovation to the quest for quality (PLA 50)

For many participatory practitioners in the early 1990s, maps and models, calendars and Venn diagrams, matrices and rankings and the interactions and insights they produced, defined what was done and what they had in common. It was this, too, that made participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and rapid rural appraisal (RRA) before it ­something that was very different from anything known before. This article reflects on the authors' personal reflections from the standpoints associated with two institutions - IIED and IDS - that were part of the early efforts to promote and institutionalise PRA in international development practice. It locates threads that have run through debates about PRA since the first issues of Participatory Learning and Action, and some of the challenges that practitioners of participatory learning and action methodologies continue to face, and reflects on distinct phases in the development and spread of PRA.

This special anniversary issue of Participatory Learning and Action contains articles by previous guest-editors and authors from the last 20 years who were invited to revisit their contributions and provide an update on current thinking. The overview reflects on the overlapping themes and parallels in the lessons learnt and suggestions for ways forward.

Guest editors: Robert Chambers, Nicole Kenton and Holly Ashley

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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