Former InSIS Associate Fellow, Marta Strumińska-Kutra, has published an article in the journal 'Organization'. Titled, 'Engaged scholarship: Steering between the risks of paternalism, opportunism, and paralysis', this article is now available online.
This article uses an example of critically oriented Action Research to reflect on the pitfalls and tensions inherent in engaged scholarship. The tensions are analyzed within three types of research-related relationships involving power: (1) between the participatory inquiry and its cultural, institutional, and social environment; (2) within ‘the community’ being studied, which itself is not homogeneous in terms of interests, values, and ability of their realization; and (3) between the researcher and ‘the community’. These tensions connect to an attempt to use the three mutually exclusive approaches of pragmatism, critical theory, and constructivism. It is claimed that this meta-theoretical inconsistency, though not elegant, should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness. Following any approach in isolation would expose the researcher to the risk of opportunism (pragmatism), paternalism (critical theory), or relativism, and therefore paralysis (constructivism). Keeping a minimum level of variety enables the researcher to escape those pitfalls and to conduct ethical and emancipatory inquiry.