Social Scientist. v 7, no. 82 (May 1979) p. 65.

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Academic and Social Action


IN RECENT years, a large number of individual researchers and research teams have been combining their research effort with direct intervention in social processes. The specific character of this new form of research combined with action is yet to crystallize. Different groups have been working within different social perspectives and through different methods. Inspite of this lack of clarity about Action Research (AR) both as a method of research, and as a process to enrich the understanding of and to catalyze the process of social change, a lot of thought and action seems to have gone into it. Other than the general pre-occupations of the academia there have been a lot of specific questions which have been concerning the research community.

The questions 'Science—what for', 'Which science', 'Which society', and so on have been plaguing the perceptive philosopher for quite some time now. The dissatisfaction with abstract scientific work, presented most often in an esoteric language by specialists who deal with specific and narrow subjects has been on the increase. Much more shocking is the use to which this research is put primarily to fulfil various academic requirements, which are then quietly buried in the dusty tomes in library shelves. Unfortunately, this is not all. We also have precise, specific and functional research taking place at an increasing scale. Scholars, agencies, institutions and governments frantically look around for the unfortunate and the underprivileged — the peasants, the tri-bals, those at the margin because now these groups have become the fashionable subject for study.

The themes vary, but the patterns are repeated almost everywhere. The oppressed are identified, measured, dissected and analyzed from the outside—the outsiders with the help of their sciences determining both the goals and the methodology of research. These results are moreover never discussed with those who are the most directly concerned. The observed groups become

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