Shared Struggle and Intent: Orienting PhD Research Toward Movement Concerns (14193)
11234 The modest literature on using PAR in PhD research is discouraging of graduate students aiming to employ their PhD project as an avenue for working towards social transformation through engaged research. The process is portrayed as more battle-ridden than a conventional PhD (Klocker, 2012). This paper grows out of the ashes of one failed attempt at deploying a PhD project to undertake social movement relevant research with a community organisation engaged in urban struggle. However, rather than focusing on why this particular collaboration didn’t work as a PhD project this paper asks are there ways of mobilising the politics and aspirations of being social movement relevant when co-research is no longer a possibility?
Drawing from PAR and the tradition of militant research the paper considers how to bring shared struggle and intent to research relationships, construct research as politics and create hybrid methodologies from social movement group practice and participatory methods with the aim of contributing to social transformation. In particular, it suggests, where co-research is not possible, research can nonetheless aspire to being social movement relevant by attempting to produce movement relevant theory (Bevington & Dixon, 2005) through engagement with movement generated analysis in its varied forms, facilitating encounters with non-academic “researchers in the wild” (Cameron, 2007) and by placing ourselves “in movement” and “in resistance” (Zibechi, 2012) regardless of any particular research project. This does not necessarily mean that engaged research can sustain a claim to contribute to social change, however it opens up a possible space for research to be oriented towards collective rather than individual goals.
- Bevington, D., & Dixon, C. (2005). Movement-relevant Theory: Rethinking Social Movement Scholarship and Activism. Social Movement Studies, 4(3), 185–208. doi:10.1080/14742830500329838
- Cameron, J. (2007). From Problem-Solving to Performativity, Expertise to Experimentation: Researching Poverty and Marginalisation. In Seminar Presentation for the Building Research Capacity in the Social Sciences Network (BRCSS), Auckland University,. Auckland.
- Klocker, N. (2012). Doing Participatory Action Research and Doing a PhD : Words of Encouragement for Prospective Students. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36(1), 149–163.
- Zibechi, R. (2012). Territories in Resistance: A Cartography of Latin American Social Movements. Oakland; Edinburgh: AK Press.