Doing it authentically is tough! Youth on the need for radical openness in Action Research

In “Everyone’s talking about co-design, but actually doing it authentically is tough”, Carla Luguetti, Juliana Ryan, and their colleagues delve into the significance of “radical openness” in the context of youth participatory action research (YPAR).

The lead reviewer of their paper noted that it “provides insight for teambuilding within the core facilitation team of PAR processes. It also demonstrates how to respond constructively to the emergence of latent epistemic differences within a collaborative research team over time.”

The authors draw inspiration from the insights of bell hooks and explore how, as a facilitation team, they embraced radical openness to address their diverse roles and experiences within YPAR. This approach was manifested through regular reflective sessions that encouraged dialogue about differing interpretations of YPAR. These dialogues enabled the team to collectively chart the course for facilitating the YPAR process.

bell hooks (1989) conceptualizes radical openness as a “conversation between comrades that reflects love” (p. 16). Radical openness goes beyond mere open-mindedness; it involves setting aside personal biases and assumptions and fostering collaborative efforts grounded in dialogue. This transformative approach reshapes critical thinkers’ engagement with the world and creates a safe space for dissenting conversations aimed at achieving freedom.

The authors reveal two central challenges that were navigated through reflective practice. Firstly, they became attuned to their individual biases and assumptions through critical introspection and shared discussions. Secondly, they negotiated issues of authenticity and accountability concerning project governance and reporting. Practising radical openness empowered them to identify and address power dynamics within the team, leading to heightened awareness and improved research practices.

Drawing from their experiences, the authors recommend that collaborative teams consider integrating radical openness into their processes. Ultimately, the practice of radical openness emerges as a catalyst for transformative discussions and a potent tool for reshaping action research endeavours.

Access the paper outside the paywall…

Luguetti, C., Ryan, J., Eckersley, B., Howard, A., Craig, S., & Brown, C. (2023). “Everybody’s talking about doing co-design, but to really truly genuinely authentically do it […] it’s bloody hard”: Radical openness in youth participatory action research. Action Research.