The Research Imagination Amid Dilemmas of Engaging Young People in Critical Participatory Work


  • Audrey M. Dentith University of Texas San Antonio
  • Lynda Measor University of Brighton
  • Michael P. O'Malley Texas State University



participatory research, critical social inquiry, field strategies, transgression of power, post-neoliberalism


The article is based on qualitative research conducted in the UK and the USA by three critical social field researchers drawn to work with young people in participative ways. The work was grounded in the researchers' commitments to researching to "make a difference" in the lives of young people. By promoting participant engagement that might affect personal understanding and policy change. The authors discuss their use of and dilemmas of practice using critical research strategies across three separate research projects. The young people in each study face a range of deprivations and life difficulties. The methods draw from perspectives that counter the resurgent logic of positivism that are increasingly favored in contemporary academic research by funding authorities and that reflect the prevailing governing mentalities that thwart critical emancipatory research in this era of post-neoliberalism.



Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Audrey M. Dentith, University of Texas San Antonio

Audrey M. DENTITH is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching at the University of Texas San Antonio. Her expertise is in curriculum studies and theories of feminisms in education. She conducts research on gender, schooling and the curriculum.

Lynda Measor, University of Brighton

Lynda MEASOR is a Reader in Applied Social Sciences in the School of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Brighton in the UK. Her research interests are in the sociology of young people in contemporary society and in participative peer research methods. She has published books on young people’s experiences and difficulties in their schools and communities. The research reported on in this paper was funded by the UK Departments of Health and Education.

Michael P. O'Malley, Texas State University

Michael P. O'MALLEY is an Associate Professor of Educational and Community Leadership and Director of the Ph.D. in Education program at Texas State University. His research interests involve leadership for educational and social equity, public pedagogy, and implications of curriculum theory for leadership. Current research projects involve secondary school student protests for educational equity in Chile, inclusion of gender and sexuality diversity issues in educational leadership preparation, and equity implications of academic and fiscal accountability initiatives in an urban school district.




How to Cite

Dentith, A. M., Measor, L., & O’Malley, M. P. (2012). The Research Imagination Amid Dilemmas of Engaging Young People in Critical Participatory Work. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 13(1).