International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleEmancipation or symbolic participation: How can we ‘do’ action research as a democratic process?
Type of ArticleCritical reflection on practice development
Author/sHeid Svenkerud Aasgaard, Marit Borg, Bengt Karlsson
ReferenceVolume 2, Issue 1, Article 9
Date of PublicationMay 2012
KeywordsAction research, collaboration, democratic process, emancipation, Jürgen Habermas

Background: Action research is a democratic research process characterised by collaboration. There is a commitment to change that is emancipatory to the research participants in the practical field.

Aims and objective: Explore how action research can be developed as a democratic process following the theoretical perspectives of the philosopher Jürgen Habermas by discussing: 1) mutual understanding and communicative competence; 2) critical reflection and emancipation.

Conclusions: The researcher needs to facilitate a dialogue that opens up established assumptions and interpretations to question the validity of claims to ‘truth’ that facilitate a critical reflexivity among the participants. The ideal position of the researcher is that as an interpreter, she goes into the research situation without the aim of change, and is only interested in achieving an understanding of the meanings of the actual situation through the judgment of claims of validity.

Implication for practice: Researchers need to implement an action research approach with an emancipatory intention, as research guided as a democratic process allows for an extended understanding of the facilitator’s role in practice development. Both the researchers and participants need to be sensitive to power relations and make reflexivity explicit, while conducting the learning process in a Socratic manner that encourages participation and self-reflection.

This article by Heid Svenkerud Aasgaard, Marit Borg, Bengt Karlsson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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