Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

Educational Research for Social Change Aad the Need for New Methodologies

Academic journal article Educational Research for Social Change

Educational Research for Social Change Aad the Need for New Methodologies

Article excerpt

As an academic journal, ERSC promotes participatory and emancipatory paradigms and methodologies in research towards social change. Social change refers to "shifts in the attitudes and behavior that characterize a society" (Greenwood & Gunner, 2008, p. 1), which are made possible through progress in society. As such, due to technological advances, people begin to implement innovations that lead to change in how one engages-that is, modification of behaviour (Greenwood & Gunner, 2008). Based on the above, we argue that social change refers to changing our thinking and doing-which implies moving from where we are currently. In essence, this concept seems to suggest change or alternative thinking, not only about phenomena but also about how we engage with and explore phenomena: rethinking praxis as action. As Eisner (1993, p. 8) argued, there are multiple ways to make meaning of the world and so we need to adopt multiple forms of research that will help us to "search for seas that take us beyond the comforts of old ports." The aim of this journal is thus to promote methodologies that change the way we conduct research.

Because we engage in research with "more of the same" traditional tools, we are likely to get more of the same research. We are suggesting that research can be a change process in and of itself-for both participants and researcher. We emphasise that we should rethink how we engage with our participants in a manner that it is beneficial to all and not only to the researcher; thus, research not on participants, but with and alongside participants. At the same time, it is important to engage in research that encourages transformative thinking, and which goes beyond traditional westernised canons or, in the words of Knowles (2015, p. 3), we need "African solutions for African problems." We are thus also arguing for research that not only utilises African theoretical perspectives to interpret findings, but also utilises existing theoretical perspectives in innovative ways when we engage with our findings. It is thus high time to rethink what knowledge is, how it is constituted (see Mbembe, 2015), and whose knowledge counts. We as researchers need to look critically at our own understandings of what knowledge is and how it ought to be generated because, as Mbembe posited, history can entrap one. According to Bourdieu's (1977, 1984, 1990) habitus and Giddens' (1984) structuration, we enact with society and engage in research based on our embedded habitus and, due to the structures embedded in our minds, without even thinking about it or questioning it. As such, what is needed is that "a new understanding of ontology, epistemology, ethics and politics has to be achieved" (Mbembe, 2015, p. 26). The above then seems to imply the need for shifting the boundaries of what counts as research and which methodologies are prioritised (see also Knowles, 2015). This is easier said than done, but we believe it is time to re-imagine educational research that results in social change.

To start this re-imagination process, we offer three suggestions. First, reflection is key. What is required is reflection that includes taking action-reflexive reflection-to engage differently and, at the same time, to have reasons for why this change is necessary. Second, part of re-imagining the research process is utilising the steps of transformative learning (Kitchenham, 2008, p. 105, with reference to Mezirow), which we will use as basis to suggest how one could embark on this journey. The journey of self-reflective exploration commences by asking oneself whether one should think about changing one's methodological approach with a view to promote social change-something that Mezirow (as cited in Kitchenham, 2008, p. 105) referred to as being confronted with a "disorienting dilemma" (Do I have to change? Why? Do I want to change?). This is followed by self-examination by means of engaging in one's own reflective writing during which one makes your own assumptions evident (Making one's beliefs clear to oneself by means of reflective writing). …

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