Becoming critical: the failure to connect

  • Elliott J
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This article is a retrospective critique of "Becoming Critical" by Carr & Kemmis. Into it are woven responses to other retrospective reviews of the book by Susan Groundwater-Smith, Susan Noffke, and Carr & Kemmis themselves. The basic argument is that "Becoming Critical" was overdependent on the work of Jurgen Habermas and was therefore vulnerable to the same critique. The author argues that just as Habermas did not resolve the dualism between theory and practice, nor did "Becoming Critical". Like the work of Habermas, its theory of rationality is very weak in creating a link between ideology critique and the organisation of strategic action. This explains why, in spite of its attractiveness to many education academics, it was unable to support critical action research at an operational level. The article refutes suggestions that the problem with the book was that times have changed. It argues that "Becoming Critical" anticipated these changes, but was conceptually unable to address them. This was largely because it differentiated a hierarchy of distinct types of action research grounded in quasi-transcendental categories of knowledge constitutive interests. In the course of the critique of "Becoming Critical" the author proposes a more philosophically pragmatic account of action research that integrates the "critical" as an intrinsic dimension of practical discourse.

Author-supplied keywords

  • critical action research
  • educational change and the
  • educational inquiry and methodology
  • educational theory and
  • in education
  • metaphor of
  • practical reasoning and discourse
  • practice
  • science of
  • struggle

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  • John Elliott

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