Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence

By Morwenna Griffiths | Go to book overview

1: Taking sides, getting change

Introduction

This is a book about using research for working towards justice, fairness and equity in education. It is about starting the process of educational research with a set of values that guide decisions about what is researched, and how and why. In other words, it is about taking sides and getting change in education through educational research. As Troyna and Carrington (1989: 208) point out, in their article 'Whose side are we on?, ethical dilemmas in research on [race] and education', commitment need not be 'a sentimental commitment to the [underdog]. 'They say: 'The researcher's pre-eminent commitment should not be to black or white youth, teachers or administrators, but to the fundamental principles of social justice, equality and participatory democracy.'

This book addresses questions of committed research. Does having a political or ethical position make the research biased and suspect from the start? Or, as I claim in this book, does acknowledging such a position improve the research? The book also addresses questions asked by those who want to do educational research for social justice. What special factors need to be taken into account by a researcher who is trying to do research for social justice? In practical terms, what sort of research techniques and methodologies are most appropriate? In answering these questions it also addresses two underlying, larger, questions. What is educational research for? How does that affect the process of educational research? Various possible answers are discussed: searching for truth; empowering others; empowering oneself and ourselves; giving or getting a voice; guiding and influencing policy change; engaging in political processes of change in education.

'social justice' is a term which does not mean the same to everyone who uses it. The same is true of the term 'educational research'. I summarize my own view of social justice at the end of this chapter. However, it is not my

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Educational Research for Social Justice: Getting off the Fence
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Doing Qualitative Research in Educational Settings ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Part I: Introduction and Context 1
  • 1: Taking Sides, Getting Change 3
  • 2: Research for Social Justice? Some Examples 15
  • Part II: Theoretical Frameworks for Practical Purposes 29
  • Introduction to Part II 31
  • 3: Truths and Methods 33
  • 4: Facts and Values 44
  • 5: Living with Uncertainty in Educational Research 65
  • 6: Educational Research for Social Justice 85
  • Part III: Practical Possibilities 99
  • Introduction to Part III 101
  • 7: Getting Started 105
  • 8: Getting Justice 117
  • 9: Better Knowledge 129
  • 10: Educational Research at Large 141
  • Appendix: Fair Schools 148
  • References 149
  • Index 159
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