Lynch, Kathleen. 'Equality studies, the academy and the role of research in emancipatory social change'. - Economic & Social Review, Vol. 30, No. 1, January, 1999, pp. 41-69, Dublin: Economic & Social Research Institute
If people are structurally excluded from democratic engagement with research practice,
they are precluded from assessing its validity in an informed manner. They are effectively disenfranchised from controlling the generation and dissemination of knowledge about themselves and/or the institutions within which they live and work. This issue is especially acute for marginalised groups and communities who are the subjects of so much social scientific research. Such research is frequently undertaken without the involvement of the groups or communities in question. The ownership of data gives researchers and policymakers power over the groups which may add to their marginalisation; there are now people who can claim to know you better than you know yourself. Without democratic engagement therefore, there is a real danger that research knowledge can be used for manipulation and control rather than challenging the injustices experienced. This paper analyses the role of research in relation to social change. It explores, in particular,the implications of utilising an emancipatory research methodology in the study of issues of equality and social justice. While recognising the difficulties involved in developing an emancipatory approach to research, it is argued that such an approach is analytically, politically, and ethically essential if research with marginalised and socially excluded groups is to have a transformative impact.
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