Reflexivity in action research

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


455. Reflexivity in action research The science shop supports non-profit organizations by implementing research projects with a potential societal impact. The research projects are supposed to provide powerful instruments for analyzing complex issues, exploring possible solutions, and monitoring and evaluating the impacts of actions taken. Many science shop projects require a form of action research which might put the researcher in a difficult position. The way commissioners of the project define a specific problem they seek to solve, is likely to influence the researcher’s perspective on the issues, therewith influencing the research process. This issue receives increasing attention from social scientists studying the sociology of science practices. Some of them argue that this entanglement of research and praxis lead to a kind of self-referentiality. Foucault addressed the problem of self-referentiality as inherent in scientific research. In his view a scientific discipline can only function on the basis of concealed presumptions and power inventions that preceded the accumulation of knowledge. Since power and knowledge are always entangled it is impossible to step aside relations of power and produce objective, independent knowledge. It would be very difficult not to get locked in the practitioners self referential problem definitions. Detaching from them requires the ability to be self-critical by means of an ongoing awareness of the power-knowledge practices in which one is involved. This way, researchers might provide different perspectives on the problem or the use of knowledge and expertise. The action researcher has to combine this with useful and effective knowledge that helps to solve the complex issues at stake. This article describes the dilemmas of a simultaneous quest for truth and performance in action research by means of various examples and lived experiences of action research, and it discusses the limits and possibilities of reflexivity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventCU Expo 2011, Community-University Partnerships: Bringing Global Perspectives to Local Action -
Duration: 10 May 201114 May 2011


ConferenceCU Expo 2011, Community-University Partnerships: Bringing Global Perspectives to Local Action


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