Critical theory and participatory action research

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In this chapter, I present a set of arguments about action research drawing connections to aspects of critical theory – generally the view of critical theory associated with the Frankfurt School, and particularly the work of Jürgen Habermas. In the chapter prepared for the first edition of this Handbook, I described some of the ways in which developments in Habermas’s theorising were refracted in my changing views of action research. In our chapter for the Third Edition of the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005), Robin McTaggart and I also reflected again on how our views of action research had been changed by our reading of Habermasian critical theory.In what follows, I hope to draw together a succession of ideas about action research and the study of practice that have led me to a new overall view of critical participatory action research, synthesising them in a new definition of critical participatory action research – or perhaps as a new thesis about what it is. The discussion draws attention to specific problems and issues which I believe to be crucial in understanding the nature of critical participatory action research and much other action research as well.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Sage handbook of action research
Subtitle of host publicationparticipative inquiry and practice
Place of PublicationLondon, UK
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781412920292
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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