Enacting a New View of Action Research:
Doing Critical Participatory Action Research
Keynote Speech of the PEP Network Annual Meeting 2014
Professor Stephen Kemmis
Professor Emeritus and Strategic Research Leader,
Research Institute for Professional Practice,
Knowledge and Education, Charles Sturt University, Australia
Date: 17 November 2014 (Monday)
Venue: Room C-LP-02, Lower Podium Floor, Block C, HKIEd Tai Po Campus
This presentation introduces a new book by Stephen Kemmis, Robin McTaggart and Rhonda Nixon (2014): The Action Research Planner: Doing critical participatory action research (Rotterdam: Sense). After a brief introduction to the family of approaches to action research, the presentation describes the book’s new view of critical participatory action research (CPAR). In particular, it outlines new views of three key terms:
1. participation (suggesting that ‘participation’ in CPAR should be understood not merely as participation in the ‘action’ being studied, but as participation in communicative action in the communicative spaces that are opened up by CPAR initiatives, to be understood as ‘public spheres’);
2. action (suggesting that the ‘action’ in CPAR should be understood not just as the intentional action of the people involved in a setting, but as social practices that are composed of sayings, doings and relatings that are enabled and constrained, and held in place, respectively, by cultural-discursive, material-economic, and social-political arrangements that are found in or brought to a site – these arrangements being the ‘practice architectures’ that make the practice possible, some of which are shaped by longer practice traditions and broader practice landscapes); and
3. research (suggesting that the ‘research’ in CPAR be understood not as data-gathering and analysis aimed at making generalisations about practices or sites in general, but as gathering evidence that allows participants to interpret and understand practices, practice architectures, practice traditions and practice landscapes ‘from within’, using the kind of idiographic approach historians or case study researchers use to interpret and understand a site or a period, rather than the nomothetic approaches that some scientists use to arrive at generalisations or universal laws about populations and phenomena).
Examples show how this view of CPAR has been and can be enacted by participants in social and educational practices – teachers in schools, colleges or universities, for example.
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