Communicative space and the emancipatory interests of action research



So, imagine someone asking you this question: “what does communicative space look like?”

No, not what is it? You can find that answer quickly enough in the nearest reference section.

But, what does it look like? And would you know it, when you see it? In a nutshell, that’s the question that I am following in my article: Communicative Space and the Emancipatory Interests of Action Research.

And why does communicative space matter to action research? Hillary Bradbury, editor of Action Research Journal puts it this way.

“While we often say we need such spaces we have not been explicit enough about what they look like. Certainly we can agree such spaces are needed if sustainable action research is to happen. That is the kind where things evolve in a positive manner, and don’t just pop back to the status quo because too little attention was given to coordination structures, such as conversation.”

You see, as action researchers, we may not be paying enough attention to communicative space –

as concept, but more importantly, as practice. William Isaacs’s instructive and inspiring book, The Art of Thinking Together, examines the notion of dialogue through the lens of communicative space(s) — in the plural. That is, for action researchers, communicative spaces as they evolve and change throughout the action research process. This is an aspect of action research, I suggest, that has been overlooked – and its time has come.

In this article, you will find an inquiry into the life of communicative space as it makes its way through three research studies published previously in the Action Research Journal. In an examination of these studies, a story is told of how the emancipatory interests of the marginalized (i.e., African-American students in public schools, the Aged in healthcare, and the Roma people of northeastern Hungary) can be realized through the opening and emergence of communicative spaces throughout the action research process. This story is told through successive themes that include the expectations and interests of action researchers, the challenges that they encountered once the action research process was underway, and finally, their reflective observations upon new communicative spaces that had emerged.

So, I invite to read my article, and feel free to get back to me. I’m interested in what you think about communicative space and its implications for action research. Let’s move this conversation – this space – forward.

Blog post by Paul Kolenick

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 2 August,  2017.

After you’ve had a chance to read this piece, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments below so we can continue this discussion!


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