Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence

By Morwenna Griffiths | Go to book overview
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5: Living with uncertainty in
educational research

In Chapters 3 and 4 I have been summarizing and discussing some of the main debates underlying questions for educational researchers for social justice. It is all very well explaining debates, but they can become interminable. It is true that my discussion was not from a neutral position. (My argument was that such a thing is not possible anyway.) But this is a book subtitled 'Getting off the fence', and this chapter is where I move from leaning to one side to making the jump (while still acknowledging that others have jumped in other ways for defensible reasons). That is, I take a particular view of educational research. I also build on the epistemological position which I leant towards in Chapter 4 to argue that educational research remains possible and worthwhile even in conditions of diversity and uncertainty. My analysis, rooted as it is in a consciousness of those conditions, is strongly influenced by the collection of views which have come to be labelled 'postmodern'. Some configurations of 'postmodernism' have been widely taken to entail an 'anything goes' relativism of values and knowledge. Therefore, my argument requires me to discuss how it is possible to entertain the possibility of postmodern ethics and politics. To this end, I discuss the construction of uncertain knowledge and the fallible struggle for justice, especially in the context of educational research.

Educational research and other social sciences

Previous chapters have focused widely on human and social sciences, including, of course, education. In this chapter, I focus more closely on educational research.1 So I begin by explaining what I understand by educational research. It might be thought that educational research was easily defined by its subject matter, or, perhaps, by the institutions in which it is carried out. However, the situation is not so straightforward. Education draws on and contributes to a wide range of academic disciplines in the human and social


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