Friday, August 30, 2013

Call for Papers! Action Research Journal Special Issue on: Knowledge Democracy and Action Research

Action Research Journal Special Issue on: Knowledge Democracy and Action Research

Paper submission deadline: 1st of October, 2013

Guest Editors: Drs. Namrata Jaitli, PRIA(Participatory Research Institute in Asia), India and George Openjuru, Makerere University, College of Education and External Studies Uganda in association with Dr. Rajesh Tandon, PRIA, India and Prof. Budd Hall, University of Victoria, Canada.

Papers are invited for a special Action Research Journal issue focusing on knowledge democracy and Action Research. The primary purpose of this special edition of Action Research Journal is to draw attention to and raise debates about knowledge democracy and alternative forms of knowing. The second aim is to bring to the fore perspectives of authors from the Global South, which is understood to include excluded epistemologies from the global North such as Indigenous researchers, to submit a paper to be considered for this special issues.

The central question in this call is the concept of knowledge democracy, which is about, “Whose Knowledge Counts”? Knowledge democracy goes beyond the concepts of a knowledge economy (how to match job skills to the global economy) and knowledge society (using existing knowledge for better social and economic outcomes). Knowledge democracy recognizes the diversity of knowledge, drawing on the work of Boaventura de Sousa Santos and others, a diversity of forms of knowledge representation (making use of artistic or other forms which are accessible to the public) and sees knowledge as a key part of people organizing themselves to create healthier, more vibrant and resilient communities.
John Gaventa, a theoretician on power and citizenship, a pioneering participatory research leader, was the first person in our experience to speak of social movements using a  'knowledge strategy' as their core political organizing strategy. Gaventa’s early work in Appalachian Mountain region of the United States involved among other things the support of citizen researchers to go to local courthouses to find out the ownership of local coalmines (Gaventa and Cornwall, 2008). Absentee landlords owned all of the mines in question from as far away as New York or London. And while profits were good, taxes were very low for these absentee landlords so that resources were not sufficient to cover the costs of good schools, health services or other social services to allow the mine workers and their families to flourish. These citizen researchers using what John called a "knowledge strategy" for organizing, pooled their knowledge across six or seven Appalachian states and produced an important study on mine ownership, which had an impact on changing tax structures in some of the states in question. Gaventa  later  moved into a campaign for environmental justice using many of the same principles (Cable and Benson, 1993).
Gaventa's linking of knowledge with the organizing of a people's movement was similar to what the late Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania used to say and what we learned from Paulo Freire as well. Nyerere said, "Poor people do not use money for a weapon". He was speaking of a way of thinking about development and community and betterment, to the building of a national movement in his country that did not depend on external financial investment. Nyerere said poor people needed to use 'ideas and leadership'. Paulo Freire, articulated a faith in the embedded knowledge of people who are living lives of poverty, exclusion, oppression, disadvantage and more.  His central theme was that the ability to understand and articulate the experience of lives of struggle was not only possible, but was a necessary condition for organizing and transformation.
Therefore within this concept of “knowledge democracy”, “knowledge strategy”  and social movement for socio-economic transformation, we invite papers which grounded in:
·      The Concept of knowledge democracy and positioning of community based action research in the same.

·      Deepening  and expanding outreach of alternative knowledge generation and action research  methodologies from the  arena of practice to those of the academia-Participatory Action Research, Community based Research, Collaborative Research 

·      Innovative practice of  community based action research methodologies  in different sectors and  thematic areas to promote empowerment and social change –(i.e. addressing issues of  poverty, sustainable development, social development , governance, conflict, empowerment of marginalized communities)

·      The practice of community based action research methodologies by  grassroots practitioners, and researchers  in global South and also lesser developed areas and excluded epistemologies of the North absent from  academic journals  and dedicated to enriching  development discourse and practices. 
Focus of the Journal
Basically, the purpose of this special edition of the  Journal is to share the  diverse and innovative practices of  community based action research interventions, especially from the global South ,  wherein the  marginalized communities are actively engaged in co-creation of knowledge and using it to facilitate  social change and empowerment.

The contributions can address the following issue:
·      Practice of innovative forms of alternative community based action research methodologies in diverse development context , addressing issues  like poverty, sustainability, conflict etc.

·      Collaborative interventions-CSO-University engagements on facilitating this strand of action research

·      Impact of these alternative AR methodologies on the community

·      Use of  knowledge generated by these alternative community based action research  methodologies
Technical Points

Guest editors will select papers for further improvement and publications. In making their selection, guest editors will favor papers that offer a high quality conceptual or practical contribution (and preferably both) to the area of generating theory and understanding in action research studies. In addition, preference may be given to papers that:
·      focus on new perspectives on community based action research
·      integrate theory and practice
·      are from  authors working in the subaltern contexts and from Global South and excluded North

We therefore look forward to receiving papers that critically explore issues of knowledge democracy and alternative forms of knowing and knowledge representations.
In calling for papers on this topic, we wish to be as inclusive, diverse, and international as possible.  We welcome perspectives from all points of view in relation to knowledge democracy.

For this special issue, we will be able to accept for review manuscripts written in Spanish and have them reviewed by Spanish speaking experts.  If accepted, these manuscripts will be translated into English for publication and we are working on arrangements to have the Spanish language version available online.

Papers might address, but should not be limited to, the following kinds of questions:

  • How can different ways of knowing be communicated in AR?  How might we appropriately draw on a range of presentational forms? 

  • How can we evaluate and demonstrate the significance of knowledge democracy and its potential implications?  And how does this form of knowledge relate to its actionability and/or transformational potential?

  • What is the nature of the evidence we can present to develop and support our claims in knowledge democracy? 

  • What is the relationship between local indigenous knowledge and foreign exotic knowledge and how are these being practiced.

Full drafts of papers should be submitted through our on-line submission process (go to no later than 1st of October, 2013.  When submitting the paper, please ensure that you clearly state that it is intended for this Special Issue.  All papers should follow regular ARJ submission recommendations, i.e., 5000-7000 words inclusive, using APA style. 

Please note that ARJ's new website enables the publication of material in multi-media format, so we welcome submissions that take advantage of this opportunity, where appropriate.  If you have specific questions or concerns regarding the call for papers, please contact Dr. George Ladaah Openjuru at who will be in communication with the rest of the editorial group for this special issue.

Cable, S and M Benson (1993) “Acting Locally: Environmental Injustice and the Emergence of Grass-Roots Environmental Organizations”, Social Problems, Vol. 40, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 464-477.

Gaventa, J and A Cornwall (2008) “Power and Knowledge”, in P Reason et al. The Sage Handbook on Action Research, London: Sage, pp 172-185.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sampling and sex trading: Lessons on research design from the street

Sex trading is a hot topic right now.  There is a lot we don’t know AND in worrying ways a lot we think we know, but may not actually understand.  I believe participatory and action research may help clear some of the fog.

In my article in the Action Research Journal I explore ways that I learned directly from people who trade sex by conducting participatory action research.  Not surprisingly, I found reality to be far more complex and contradictory than our media representations and our often too-easy moral stances might suggest.  To understand the systems, experiences and meanings around sex trading I think we ought to put the multifaceted experiences of real people at the center. 

But which “real” people?  Whose experiences? 

As researchers and activists I think it is critical to be clear about location (geographic, context, rootedness).  I focus on sex trading in one neighborhood; a place of strength and beauty that is also challenged by generational poverty, violence and disinvestment.  Participatory and action research allowed me to conduct research with people who trade sex and thus to develop deep and nuanced understandings that helped build a foundation for social action.  But, this wasn’t a one-sized fits all solution factory.  It’s a grounded approach rooted in a unity of theory and practice; and also rooted in radical acts of listening and connection. 
I invite you to read my article and I would welcome your thoughts, comments and conversation.

Lauren Martin 

You can access this article online FREE for 30 days by following this link.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Collaborative participatory action strategies for re-envisioning young men’s masculinities

Ask a group of male college students if they believe it is OK to have sex with a woman who is intoxicated. Many in the room will raise their hand… and maybe giggle a little. Now ask them to answer the same question anonymously. You may find that the results of both approaches to the same question bring completely contradicting results. The truth is that most men would not agree with this statement, despite what they demonstrated in the larger group. This is an exercise that comes from the social norming approach to addressing violence against women by men and is one that sparked an idea for a pilot program on a small New England college campus.

What men think other men think tends to be one of the strongest determinants of how men act. The problem is that this perception is a strong determinant even when it is drastically mistaken. In our research, we wanted to create a program that followed this social norming philosophy. We set out asking what it would take to get those men (in the overwhelming majority) who do not believe in violence or using control over women to feel comfortable in speaking out against the group. In other words, what would it take for those college men in that room to ascribe to their own definition of masculinity and disagree with that statement in public?

Our curriculum titled, One Man Up, was facilitated over an extended period of time at a small state university during the 2009-2010 academic year. A group of young men met with us on campus each week for nine two-hour sessions. The purpose of the program had been for young men to renegotiate masculinities related to the primary prevention of interpersonal violence. The program was distinctive in its focus on the specific challenges and resiliencies of men in predominately non-white, ethnically diverse, urban communities. In addition to guided discussion, the program exposed participants to other kinds of social norming activities and community activism. For example, the participants were asked to wear public awareness bracelets or pins for an entire week.

To differentiate ourselves from other so-called ‘anti-violence’ programs, we did not use guilt when discussing men’s violence against women, nor did we try to impart more noble or chivalrous masculinity. Instead, we found success in simply asking participants to define their own masculinity.

The results of the program are encouraging. Students who completed the multi-session program 1) felt more confident to challenge gender stereotypes and female objectification within their peer groups, 2) were able to identify healthy relationships and appropriate sexual interactions and 3) had increased their self-awareness in regards to the how they ascribe to masculinity. So when these young men are in a situation where someone is normalizing sexual assault and their friends are nodding along, maybe giggling to mask their discomfort, they will most likely be the first ones to demonstrate that this is, in fact, not normal, nor is it accepted as part of a masculine identity.

The question remains, however, how many men and women must pull the curtain on this falsely perceived social norm before we see a substantial decrease and end to violence against women by men?

We are interested in your thoughts on these issues and our article! You can access it for the next 30 days by clicking HERE.

Kyle and Jessica