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Action Research: some methodological and political considerations

by Lynne Chisholm
British Educational Research Journal ()


Action research enjoys an established position in educational thinking and practice. Feminist theory and praxis has inspired and guided anti‐sexist educational policy and practice. However, ‘anti‐sexist’ and ‘mainstream’ action research in education draw on divergent methodological and political discourses. This is revealed in the sense of distance/difference the two traditions can experience when they encounter each other in the educational community. We might alternatively approach the issues raised in such encounters by considering the contradictory elements built into action research itself. These oppositions mirror the dualism of our accustomed ways of thinking. Some characteristic shortcomings of action research projects result from avoiding rather than confronting these contradictory elements. The problems they entail may be ultimately irresolvable, but they cannot be circumvented if action research is not to become increasingly vulnerable to political ‘actionism’.

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