Background: Interactive research strategies, such as "dialogical research" and "action research," aim to democratise scientific knowledge production through collaborative research processes where researchers and practitioners/participants mutually learn from each other. In this capacity interactive research can be seen as a "laboratory" for new research strategies, forming one kind of response to the transforming relationship between science and society.

Objective: The democratic ideal of interactive research raises questions of if and how "democracy" can be practiced in the production of knowledge. One understanding of democracy is as a procedure of decision-making that contains conflicting perspectives and interests. The proposed paper studies the relationship between researcher and participants in interactive research with a focus on conflicts between these. What happens if the perspectives of the researcher and the participants collide; how is it decided which knowledge will prevail? Methods: The empirical material consists of academic introductions to interactive research, and it is analysed with strategies drafted from Ernesto Laclau’s and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory.

Results: Despite recurring discussions of other kinds of conflicts, for instance among participants within specific projects, discussions of conflicts between researcher and participants are rare. Thus, new questions arise: How can we understand the different approaches to different kinds of conflicts? How is possible conflict between researcher and participants made a non-issue, and what are the consequences?

Conclusion: The interactive researcher is positioned with a double responsibility, both being one member of the interactive research group and facilitating a democratic process in the group as a whole. Thus, the researcher is positioned both as an advocate of one perspective, and as responsible for a democratic resolution to conflicts between perspectives. The paper suggests that this makes it difficult to discuss conflicts between researcher and participants – but that this absence of discussion limits the possibility of assessing the democratic potential within interactive research.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Conflicts between researcher and participants in interactive research

Marianne Jørgensen   Culture, Society, Media production, Dept for Studies of Social Change and Culture

Background: Interactive research strategies, such as "dialogical research" and "action research," aim to democratise scientific knowledge production through collaborative research processes where researchers and practitioners/participants mutually learn from each other. In this capacity interactive research can be seen as a "laboratory" for new research strategies, forming one kind of response to the transforming relationship between science and society.

Objective: The democratic ideal of interactive research raises questions of if and how "democracy" can be practiced in the production of knowledge. One understanding of democracy is as a procedure of decision-making that contains conflicting perspectives and interests. The proposed paper studies the relationship between researcher and participants in interactive research with a focus on conflicts between these. What happens if the perspectives of the researcher and the participants collide; how is it decided which knowledge will prevail? Methods: The empirical material consists of academic introductions to interactive research, and it is analysed with strategies drafted from Ernesto Laclau’s and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse theory.

Results: Despite recurring discussions of other kinds of conflicts, for instance among participants within specific projects, discussions of conflicts between researcher and participants are rare. Thus, new questions arise: How can we understand the different approaches to different kinds of conflicts? How is possible conflict between researcher and participants made a non-issue, and what are the consequences?

Conclusion: The interactive researcher is positioned with a double responsibility, both being one member of the interactive research group and facilitating a democratic process in the group as a whole. Thus, the researcher is positioned both as an advocate of one perspective, and as responsible for a democratic resolution to conflicts between perspectives. The paper suggests that this makes it difficult to discuss conflicts between researcher and participants – but that this absence of discussion limits the possibility of assessing the democratic potential within interactive research.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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