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The Study Circle. Participatory Action Research, With and For the Unemployed.

Brophy, Mark (2001) The Study Circle. Participatory Action Research, With and For the Unemployed. PhD thesis, Victoria University.

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Abstract

Although considered unorthodox in comparison to more traditional research methodologies, participatory action research and the critical theory that supports such an approach has been an accepted research practice for over four decades. The fundamental aim of this methodology is to empower and emancipate marginalised groups through a collaborative and participatory research process, ensuring the research participants' "stories" are represented honestly. Critical theory requires a researcher to initially focus on a thematic concern of social significance. In this study the concern is unemployment. This study then integrates the subjective "voice" of unemployed people in the research process. It is an attempt to conduct research with and for the unemployed participants involved in the study, not on them. From a critical theory methodology perspective, it attempts to challenge the notion of "blame" and the label of "deviant" the unemployed are coerced to accept for their own situation. The study therefore does not pathologise the unemployed, but seeks to address issues in relation to unemployment from the research participants' perspective. Critical theory and action research requires the researcher to select a milieu, which grounds the process in a meaningful context. An approach to adult learning which has existed in Scandinavian countries and the USA for over one hundred years, but recently introduced into Australia and currently growing in popularity is the study circle. The study circle format is adopted in this study as the milieu to act as the catalyst for an action research process. This milieu has been selected because it reflects and endorses the fundamentals of critical theory and action research. In this way it is participatory, collaborative, empowering, and embraces the breaking down of the researcher and researched divide. Part one of the thesis, the methodology and literature review, introduces the thematic concern of unemployment and then discusses in detail issues in relation to the critical theory/action research methodology. The milieu, the study circles is elaborated upon as well as the research method. This then is the planning stage of the action research cycle. Where methodological theory begins to be applied in a practical manner. Part two, the study circle season, is a collaborative reflection upon the study circle season itself. It provides an overview of the study circle season and then it addresses the themes the members discussed in relation to their own subjective experiences of unemployment. Part two also attempts to establish if and how this experience was an empowering one, from the participants' perspectives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Uncontrolled Keywords: action research; unemployed; research participant; study circle
Subjects: Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Management and Information Systems
RFCD Classification > 350000 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Depositing User: Mr Angeera Sidaya
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 23 May 2013 16:58
URI: http://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/211
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