Participatory approach (PAR) is a social sciences methodology, a form of research praxis as well as the world view for many researchers. This paper describes the position of PAR in social research. The paper starts with an attempt to define PAR and to outline briefly its history as well as the ways of its legitimization as a research practice. Further it describes its organizational and methodological aspects and discusses the research ethics. It is shown that though PAR is sometimes presented as possible way of how to settle ethical problems, the promised equality in research relations might be delusive. In conclusion, the paper deals with the possibility of participatory research to produce valid knowledge. It suggests that participatory action research paradoxically seems to have a greater capacity to put social research closer to the ideal conditions of experimental laboratory praxis than the mainstream representative surveys do.