By Bridget Somekh
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Extra info for Action Research: A Methodology for Change and Development
Noffke (1997) begins her review of action research literature with a quotation from Martin Luther King, deliberately adopting a political stance oriented towards social justice, while acknowledging that, for some action researchers, the main impetus is professional and for others personal. Her three categories are not, of course, mutually exclusive and because all action research is rooted in aspirations for improvement it always has an inescapable moral purpose. What varies greatly is the extent to which action researchers engage explicitly with the larger political structures that play a part in shaping local action.
There are also a small number of references to Spanish and Portuguese publications. Social justice is the driving motivation behind the article whose discourse is structured around concepts such as ‘struggle,’ ‘subordination,’ ‘power,’ ‘legitimacy’ and ‘culture’. Like Walker, Knijnik’s analysis of power and the nature of knowledge is subtle; she avoids dichotomizing issues and uses the tools of contemporary sociology such as the concept of ‘social and cultural capital’ to analyse the needs of MST in relation to mathematical knowledge (Bourdieu is her one wholly ‘first world’ reference).
In this chapter I will explore the implications for action research methodology of this cultural fluidity and responsiveness. The chapter is divided into three sections, the first on action research in ‘southern’ or ‘developing’ countries, the second on action research in health and social care settings, and the third on action research in business settings. All these settings are, of course, educational since education is a life-long process that incorporates the continuous development and learning of adults in their work places and communities.