Monday, June 14, 2010

Forms of Action - Alan Wight

“What makes our work fundamental to the revitalization of social research more generally lies in its orientation towards taking action, its reflexivity, the significance of its impacts and that it evolves from partnership and participation” (underline added for emphasis).
– Hillary Bradbury Huang, ARJ Blog

This past weekend I walked the well worn paths of Red River George in KY with a few close friends.  While hiking, I kept thinking about all the different kinds, types, and forms of action as they relate to the goals of AR.  Hiking, camping, running, swimming, biking and other physically intense actions were first on my mind, but soon other forms of action crept in: voting, protesting, rioting, picketing, striking, community organizing, boycotting goods and services, gardening, listening, speaking, writing, praying, meditating, and teaching. 

This flurry of thoughts concluded with the broad question: “What are the most important forms of action at our disposal for empowering a community?”  

Kimberly Kinsler  (2010) discusses Carr and Kemmis’s (1986) Becoming Critical  where the authors claim that AR has become “more often connected to issues of professional development, only loosely and infrequently articulated with social justice agendas let alone challenges to dominant research paradigms” (p. 323).  I am still new to AR, but I sincerely hope that this method and school of thought are not being co-opted to serve the powers that be.   I love that fact that AR is emancipatory and seeks to “connect the personal with political…” (Kinsler 2010, p. 175).  This is why I am here.

Despite all this talk about taking action, I believe the best approach to social change maybe no action at all, or more specifically non-violence.  Now that might sound like an oxymoron, but any social change needs to be peaceful and constructive for all parties involved, even the oppressors.  When thinking about AR and the environment, is it possible to be nonviolent toward our planet?  All most every economic activity requires environmental destruction for the creation of goods. We are fortunate that parts of earth regenerate after being used (flora and fauna).  Along these lines of nonviolence and nature I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau.  He found emancipation and freedom away from the city.  He found god in nature.  Maybe the best method of social change involves not participating in the power structures that be….of course this might also require the relearning of agriculture.  In that case gardening would be my favorite action for empowering the community.

1. Kinsler, Kimberly.  (2010)  The utility of educational action research for emancipatory change.  In Action Reserach, vol 8, no 2.  Available at 
2.  Carr and Kemmis (1986). Becoming critical: Education, knowledge and action research. Abingdone: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.
3. Community Garden picture retrieved from Knoxville Permaculture Guild (6.14.2010):

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