On being critical: Uniting theory and practice through emancipatory action research

  • Ledwith M
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This paper engages with some of the specific issues that challenge critical practice. My argument is related to the Carr and Kemmis debate on 'staying critical' and to ideas expressed in my current book, Community Development: A Critical Approach. I refer to critical practice as any practice that has a transformative social justice intention, and which happens in a range of contexts from grassroots community activism to more institutionalised settings, such as hospitals or schools. My own professional base is community development, and this paper is founded on emancipatory action research developed over many years in grassroots practice. It is my view that emancipatory action research, committed to the practice of social justice, with the intention of bringing about social change, is a necessary component of critical practice. In fact, I would go so far as to say that emancipatory action research is the glue that binds critical praxis in a unity of theory and action. However, all too often collective action for change is not followed through to its greatest potential, and practice remains contextualised in the immediate, local and specific without making critical connections with the structural roots of oppression from which inequalities emanate. The result is that we constantly fixate on symptoms, and leave the root causes free to perpetuate oppressions. At the same time, we find ourselves in a globalised world marked by intensifying social divisions. So, it is my intention to raise a few issues which present challenges to get beyond sticking points in critical practice as we face times in which there is an accelerating urgency to 'become critical'. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] Copyright of Educational Action Research is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Critical practice/critical pedagogy
  • Emancipatory action research
  • Social change
  • Social justice

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  • Margaret Ledwith

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