Unmet challenges and unfulfilled promises in action research
A reply to Davydd J. Greenwood and Björn Gustavsen
This article is a response to Davydd J. Greenwood’s critical review of defensiveness and sloppiness in the current action research (AR) community. My experience of the situation in AR coincides to a large degree with Greenwood’s. His claims are hard to test, however, since he hardly gives concrete examples. In order to sort out real “sloppiness” (whatever that is), we have to take into consideration the conditions under which most AR to work. I also think Greenwood’s contention that AR suffers from “complacency about fundamental issues of theory, method and validity” has to do with fundamental changes in AR’s self-understanding between “old AR” before 1965 and “the second wave” from the 1970s on. Personally I recommend an AR-strategy — immanent critique — that balances between “morally superior, but sloppy and complacent AR” on the one hand and “conventional social research” (whatever that is nowadays), but find it hard to find much support in the AR community, for reasons, I believe, that have to do with the mentioned fundamental change in justification-strategy and self-conception within AR. At the end I announce some issues I would like to discuss further, but for which I lack the space in this article.
Keywords: phrónêsis, action research, immanent critique, justification-strategies for action research
Published online: 29 January 2004
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