Research for Praxis: knowing doing

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Educational action is a species of praxis in both an Aristotelian sense and a post-Marxian sense: in the first, it involves the morally informed and committed action of the individual practitioners who practise education; in the second, it helps to shape social formations and conditions for collectivities of people. In this paper, it is argued that, in the context of a profession like education, research into praxis has two main purposes that parallel these two senses of 'praxis': (1) to guide the development of educational praxis, and (2) to guide the development of education itself. Some approaches to researching praxis that have emerged in recent years include 'praxis research', 'phronetic research', 'praxis-related research' and 'research as practical philosophy'. These approaches are briefly analysed in terms of their ability (or inability) to strengthen and extend praxis. In contrast to earlier approaches to studying practice/praxis, which usually regard practice as an object of study external to the researcher or observer, the practical philosophy approach regards practice and especially praxis as 'internal' to the persons and groups whose practice/praxis it is, and as 'internal' to the practice traditions which give meaning and significance to a practice like Education. Following this insight, the paper outlines a new view of what it might mean to 'research' praxis by studying praxis and practice traditions 'from within'. It is argued that this can only be achieved by those whose own individual and collective praxis is both their proper work and, at the same time, the focus of their critical investigation. The paper also invites further exploration of the relationships to be found between different kinds of practices and praxes - particularly the relationship between different kinds of research practice/praxis and different kinds of educational practice/praxis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-27
Number of pages19
JournalPedagogy, Culture and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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