AR Special Issue: Development, Aid, and Social Transformation

The purpose of this special issue of the Action Research Journal is to name marginalization and to seek insights – practical, practice-focused insights – about how action research methodology in its most liberatory and transformative forms might help Official Development Assistance tackle wicked, intractable, complex problems. The special issue builds on a long history of action research for social transformation and emancipation within international development efforts.

This issue highlights adaptive approaches to action research. Johnson  and Apgar, et al. highlight how surfacing assumptions and engaging diverse knowledge from new stakeholders were key preconditions for shifting important conversations.  Seferiadis, et al describe how they explicitly sought alternatives ‘to failed “projectized” approaches in which problems and solutions are predefined, with little regard given to specific concerns from local contexts.’  In Ethiopia, Ashley Lackovich-Van Gorp and her co-researcher, Workenesh, shifted project focus from childhood marriage to forced childhood marriage by abduction, a practice that had much more emotional resonance with the women involved. In the Lake Dunga tourism project also used an adaptive approach, Jernsand and her co-researcher let one activity lead to another, with final outcomes remaining uncertain.

You are invited to the AR+ blog where you can read the authors’ stories of how they investigate the extent to which action research – if more broadly adopted by change agents, communities, funders, and policy-makers– plays, and might play, a more powerful role in untaming aid, in nudging aid policies and philanthropic practices towards more emancipatory ends. In each blog post, you’ll find a link taking you directly to the article and free access for 30 days beginning 22 May, 2017.
After you’ve had a chance to read the blog posts and the articles, please share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with our community in the comments section of each blog post so we can continue this discussion!

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