Participatory action research and the struggle for legitimation

Year: 2002

Author: Hooley, Neil

Type of paper: Refereed paper

There is little reason why educational research in Australia should be progressive and highly developed given that its history and direction are subject to the economic and political determinants of an increasingly globalised and uncertain world. Whether or not educational research is an entirely derivative field or a semi-distinctive social science, is essentially qualitative or quantitative in character, desires knowledge that is vaguely accurate or accurately vague, seeks epistemological or ontological explanation, remains to be seen as history works itself out. It cannot be considered a neutral endeavour and demands that researchers identify a political perspective or worldview from which new knowledge is described and interpreted. Such fundamental questions have confronted the design and implementation of Nyerna Studies, a Bachelor of Education program being conducted in partnership between Victoria University of Technology and the Indigenous peoples of the Echuca region of Australia. In developing an approach to participatory action research, a number of challenges and knowledges have emerged from Nyerna Studies involving community partnership, two-way enquiry learning and the educational public sphere. Participatory action research as outlined here may be the only framework appropriate for democratic community research although it is not as yet legitimated within the pantheon of available methodologies and philosophies.