This book offers perspectives and challenges for action research in contemporary society with a particular reflection on ethics and standards. On the one hand the world is becoming smaller and much more open with tremendous opportunities for international exchange and multi-cultural enrichment. On the other hand the divide between the poor and the rich is deepening, international tensions are growing and the sustainability of the environment is under considerable threat on a worldwide basis. These trends are challenging politicians, civil society and social movements to search for problem solving strategies to deal with the risks of exclusion, poverty, social and physical insecurity and environmental deprivation.
The intriguing question is what role action research could play in order to address these challenges? Action research has something to offer because it favours the connection between knowledge production and social change by means of partnerships between researchers, practitioners and a variety of client stakeholders. The focus is on providing the means to improve people’s self determination - to empower them in their roles as professional practitioners or citizens in the diverse social domains in which they live and work. Participatory action research and learning processes enable participants to improve the impact of services and programs in education, health care, urban and regional development, business, agriculture, arts, care of the elderly, leisure and many other spheres of social life.
The approach of action research, which is rooted among others in the work of John Dewey and Kurt Lewin, covers nowadays a landscape of different concepts such as participatory action research, cooperative inquiry and action learning, to mention just a few. In this book scholars from those divergent concepts of action research present and discuss instructive examples of action research practices from developed as well developing countries. Special attention is paid to the vital issue of how this type of research can be conducted in a participatory, responsible, transparent and scientific way.