Origins of Action Research Kurt Lewin first used the term “action research” in 1946 to describe “research leading to social action” that uses “a spiral of steps, each of which is composed of a circle of planning, action, and fact-finding about the result of the action” Criticized as having an intrinsically political nature. “Participation is empowerment and empowerment is politics” (Berger)
Participatory Action Research in the Community Increasing use of action research methods to perform community based research (CBR) Rationale: Perceived academic-community disconnect Criticism of overly narrowly defined research by academia Perceived need for students to develop civic capacity and democratic citizenship
Community Based Research (CBR) Can have a local, regional, national or global focus Using action research in communities is a way of combining academic knowledge with praxis with the goal of social and economic justice for all
Praxis From the Greek praxis (refers to work performed by free men) Aristotle: three types of activity and related knowledge in life: theoria (the theoretical pursuit of truth) poiesis (with the goal of making things and production) praxis (with the end goal of action)
Karl Marx and Praxis In Communist Manifesto (Marx, 1848), noted need for working class (proletariat) to overcome false consciousness to develop class consciousness and move from being “class-in-itself” to become “class-for-itself” Achieved through praxis = knowledge and research should inform one’s action (Marx, Theses on Feuerbach 1845)
Action Research in the Community Has become popular method for teaching community members (esp. in low income areas) to explore, challenge, and react to own needs Paulo Freire advocated community controlled social change in Brazil. Freire (1990) wrote, "The silenced are not just incidental to the curiosity of the researcher but are the masters of inquiry into the underlying causes of the events in their world. In this context research becomes a means of moving them beyond silence into a quest to proclaim the world.” Orlando Fals-Borda organized PAR conferences for researchers in Colombia to teach them how to collaborate with and empower members of peasant groups in creating their own forms of social change.
CBR Principles Research should: 1. be a collaborative enterprise 2. validate multiple sources of knowledge and employ mixed methods 3. have the goals of social action and social change in order to achieve social justice
Value of Historical Research It throws light on present and future trends. It enables understanding of and solutions to contemporary problems to be sought in the past. It can illuminate the effects of key interactions within a culture or sub-culture. It allows for the revaluation of data in relation to selected hypotheses, theories and generalizations that are presently held about the past and the present.
Oral History (cont.) Gathers data not available in written records about events, people, decisions, and processes. Can show how individual values and actions shaped the past, and how the past shapes present-day values and actions. Methodological problem: Grounded in memory, and memory is a subjective instrument for recording the past, always shaped by the present moment and the individual psyche.
Why Collect Oral Histories? Listen to Alice Nixon Cooper (104 years old) and her recollections of the American south and “the Jim Crow days”Alice Nixon Cooper
Case Study Approach Provides a “holistic description and explanation” (Berg) Research skills needed : Inquiring mind Ability to listen Adaptability and flexibility Understanding of the issues Unbiased interpretation of data
Case Study Example A Case Study of Organizational Stress in Elite Sport (Woodman and Hardy, 2001) A Case Study of Organizational Stress in Elite Sport (Woodman and Hardy, 2001) Case study performed in Wales of 15 elite athletes using standardized interviews This study uses content analysis and grounded theory to analyze data