Although action research has been widely recognized as an appropriate methodology for promoting the democratization of knowledge, it is not always conducted from an emancipatory and transformative paradigm. Using AR in a technical way, renders it no more than a researcher-driven, problem-solving heuristic that perpetuates the intellectual colonization of local knowledge. This begs the question: how can action researchers work in ways that are contextually and culturally relevant, and generate knowledge that enables people to take control of improving their own lives as they see fit? This paper presents a thematic analysis of the narrative reports from seven participatory workshops held around the world for the purpose of dialoging around this and related questions. Findings indicate that, generally, action researchers are indeed facing challenges on many personal, institutional and epistemic levels as they endeavor to promote knowledge derived from the principles of authentic participation and dialogue with those whom it is intended to benefit. However, the analysis also reveals creative responses of practitioners to these challenges. In keeping with the special issue theme, we offer this analysis as a starting point for further discussion around how we can mobilize knowledge for equitable social progress.
- Action research
- knowledge democracy
- participatory research
- social justice
- Participative & Action Research Network