I was disturbed to read that an advisor would decline to participate in a dissertation committee for disagreeing with the mixing of politics and psychology (Brydon-Miller, 1997). Research, especially psychological research, has played important roles in helping to move social progress. At any point in time, researchers will look into topics and subjects that have never been researched before. It is here that hypotheses are formed and proven or rejected. For one to out rightly conclude politics and psychology cannot mix is to me perhaps an insult to knowledge generation. How else could society have moved from racial and gender discrimination to the notion of all people being equal? How else could society have moved from having women stay at home predominantly as home-makers (other terms include “house wives”) to become CEO’s on Fortune 500 companies (Molla, 2014)? All these came about after thorough research rejected the notion that only men can perform these responsibilities effectively.
Women would never have broken the proverbial glass ceiling. It is my belief that many in the past would have required for evidence that a woman can become effective in a CEO’s role. It is impossible to prove anything when a person is not given the chance to do so in the first place. This is the same perspective that I hold when looking at Participatory Action Research (PAR). The role and importance of PAR should be allowed to explore knowledge generation without being bounded to certain themes like Marxism, Feminism, and Critical theory. The interpretive and critical approaches that Brydon-Miller (1997) point to, illustrate that human interests cannot be confined to narrow themes.
Suggestions of ethical failures or a lack of separation between the researcher and the research are by themselves not sufficient to invalidate the need for PAR. If data collection and validation methods are established, the outcomes can be invaluable for society at large. It is obvious that when PAR is suppressed, only entrenched corporate interests will be able to undertake self-serving research where the agenda is hidden but the outcomes pre-determined World-Campus, 2014). It is time that Participatory Action Research should be allowed to thrive and their findings accepted after going through peer reviews. This is healthy for generating knowledge in alternative ways, and also for social progress.
Brydon-Miller, M (1997). Participatory Action Research: Psychology and Social Change. Journal of Social Issues (53- 4) Blackwell Publishing Ltd. doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1997.tb02454.x
Molla, R., (2014) Meet the Women CEOs of the Fortune 500 Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/atwork/2014/03/07/meet-the-women-ceos-of-the-fortune-500/
Social Change/Participatory Research. Lesson 13. Penn State World Campus, 2014