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Dictionary

EMANCIPATORY RESEARCH

Gayle Letherby

Research that seeks to empower the subjects of social inquiry. It is now commonly recognized that power is a fundamental aspect of all research relationships. Traditional research processes have been criticized for their objectification of respondents. One response has been to argue for an emancipatory research process: one which recognizes this power imbalance in research and aims to empower respondents through research. Traditional research processes argued for the objective and value-free production of knowledge: a ‘scientific’ social science. From this perspective the research process is value-free, coherent and orderly – in fact ‘hygenic’ (Stanley and Wise, 1993; Kelly et al., 1994). Amongst other criticisms of this approach is the viewpoint that power is a fundamental aspect of all research relationships. It is useful here to draw on the work of Giddens (1985), who argues that power is in one way or another an aspect of all relationships and makes the ...

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