We are not third parties: Exploring conflict between action researchers and stakeholders as the engine of transformation

Blog post by Miren Larrea

We face the common challenge of letting the next generations have a planet where they can live, and the Action Research Journal has decided to focus on transformations as the concept that can guide us through this endeavour. If you are grappling with your role in action research for transformations, I hope this paper can help you look at it from a fresh angle.

Action research is deeply political. This is not theoretically new; however, I have discovered it sometimes frightens action researchers. Being political means that we know which are the transformations we aim at and action research is our way to fight for them.

How does this political role relate to that of stakeholders in action research? Based on my experience working with policy makers, in this paper I show that we share one process with them. From their perspective, this process is their policy. From our perspective, it is our research. This difference in perspective positions the political goals of action researchers and stakeholders as naturally in conflict.

Image description: a man with white hair and a woman with dark hair sit on the same side of a table talking and writing. There are three images in tryptych and framed as a film negative.







Conflict, constructively interpreted and addressed, is an unavoidable and marvelous mechanism to transform the world. It can generate long term relationships of mutual trust and respect. That is, precisely, the idea I want to share with the following photographs of Sebas Zurutuza (Director of Management Strategy, Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa) and me, the two parties in conflict in the case that inspired this paper.

We invite you to learn more about this experience by reading our article HERE. Free 30-day access is available for this article beginning 21 November. 

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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