Transforming Suppression—Process in Our Participatory Action Research Practice

Susan Goff


There are many personal and cultural pathways into the worlds of action learning and research. Despite this variety there is a world that we as practitioners share. This world seems to be defined by our resistance to oppression as much as it is defined in our willingness to construct non-oppressive ways of working in this world. Our world is not discipline specific, or owned by any particular social group (as defined by demographics). In our resistance and creativity we can be highly critical in determining validity. How can we, in this environment characterised by tension, develop practices which credibly inform us that what we are doing is indeed credible participatory learning and research? This paper proposes some ways of distinguishing action research and learning processes in our practices-particularly with regard to experiences of reconciliation at an inter-racial level. Rather than naming a particular process as being generically recognisable as action research or learning, I reflect on how in my practice as a facilitator of participatory action research I recognise and develop process, and how this, rather than being an example of good practice, can easily become an example of very poor practice. To be specific—practice that oppresses even in my resistance to oppression. I explore some of the possibilities that purpose and position offer as foundations for negotiation processes with participants. Using negotiation, collaborative reflection and decision-making as the fundamental practices of community building, we can willingly bring our great diversity into effective congruency. We can also blind and deafen ourselves, crippling our ability to educate the oppressor within and without.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0101211


purpose; emergent power; process; practice; position; oppression; self-determination; interdependency; best practice; reconciliation

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Copyright (c) 2001 Susan Goff

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