Feminism and Action Research – Valerie Louis

Before I was an action researcher, I was a feminist researcher/scholar.  I had done feminist qualitative research, taking into account whose voice was being heard, the power dynamics within the research process, and the gendered lens which I explored my topic.  As an action researcher I learned a lot from feminist theory and methodology. I have used my feminist lens as a foundation for my AR.  As a feminist thinker, I am not just concerned with gender but the intersectionality of oppressions and identity.  The hierarchy of oppressions just didn’t make sense in the theoretical world – though I embrace understanding that many in the world do see their identities and oppressions as hierarchical, or one piece that plays out more overtly in society than another.

When I began my education as an action researcher, my classes studied much of the critical theories I read as a feminist scholar.  With this re-reading, I realized I had found another one of my educational homes.  But what drives my action research is my feminist identity, my awareness of the social injustice in the world.  Action research provided a place for the theory and the action that fell in love with as a women’s studies student.  I found AR to provide more of a blueprint and a theory for my feminist methodology.  Much has been written about feminism and AR (see Brydon-Miller, Maguire & McIntyre and Frisby, Macguire & Reid in bibliography below).  I think it is important to explore how we came to AR.  For me, I know that it is continually important for me to honor the feminist researcher/scholar within me and that it is foundational to all of the work that I do, even when at times it is not the most prominent label I use in the discussion (and that is not because I am afraid of the f-word 🙂

Brydon-Miller, M., Maguire, P., & McIntyre, A. (2004). Traveling companions: Feminism, teaching, and action research. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers

Collins, P. (2000). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment: Routledge.

Frisby, W., Maguire, P., & Reid, C. (2009). The `f’ word has everything to do with it. Action Research, 7, 13-29.