Writing to Transgress: Knowledge Production in Feminist Participatory Action Research

Diana L. Gustafson, Janice E. Parsons, Brenda Gillingham


The process of writing and the textual form and format that scientific knowledge takes tend to be organized by traditional rules for knowledge production that are reinforced in the publication arena. Too often participatory action researchers must adhere to scholarly writing conventions that may be at odds with the epistemic stance and discursive claims of the feminist researchers who produce them. In this article, we reflect on our experience of writing to transgress conventions for scholarly writing using a previously published paper about and with a lone mother living in poverty. In our examination of this case study we argue that our writing process and the transgressive textual form and format we used were a more authentic reflection of our epistemic stance as critical realists and more consistent with the principles and assumptions underpinning feminist participatory action research—assumptions that privilege power-sharing, voice, subjectivity and reflexivity. We also show how maternal identities and their lived experiences can be constituted differently through transgressive writing practices. We consider some benefits that may accrue to those who are willing and able to challenge disciplinary boundaries for knowledge production and the practical and ethical challenges such a venture may expose.


participatory action research, writing practices, epistemology, critical realism, writing to transgress, knowledge production, lone mothers

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17169/fqs-20.2.3164

Copyright (c) 2019 Diana L. Gustafson

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