Research for Action – Do We Need a Reminder?

“In a field that lack objective standards of achievement, no learning can take place. If we cannot judge whether an action has led forward or backward, if we have no criteria for evaluating the relation between effort and achievement, there is nothing to prevent us from making the wrong conclusions and to encourage the wrong work habits. Realistic fact-finding and evaluation is a prerequisite for any learning. Social research should be one of the top priorities for the practical job of improving intergroup relations.”

“…research leading to social action. Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.”

“Psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology … without the help of the other neither will be able to proceed very far.”

“We need the reconnaissance to show us whether we move in the right direction and with what sped we move. Socially, it does not suffice that university organizations produce new scientific insight. It will be necessary to install fact-finding procedure, social eyes and ears, right into social action bodies.”

“The atmosphere of objectivity, the readiness by the faculty to discuss openly their mistakes, far from endangering their position, seemed to lead to an enhancement of appreciation and to bring about that mood of relaxed objectivity…”

“…when I heard the delegates and teams of delegates from various towns present their plans for city workshops and a number of other projects to go into realization immediately, I could not help but feel that the close integration of action, training and research holds tremendous possibilities for the field of intergroup relations.”

“A second threat to social science comes from “groups in power”. These people can be found in management on any level, among labor leaders, among politicians, some branches of the government… Somehow or other they all seem to be possessed by the fear that they could not do what they want to do if they, and others, would really know the facts. — …it would be most unhealthy if the findings of the Gallup Poll automatically would determine policy… We will have to recognize the difference between fact finding and policy setting…”

“No one working in the field of intergroup relations can be blind to the fact that we live today in one world.”

—-

Doesn’t this all sound too familiar? No, it wasn’t written by some contemporary author. It could have been though. It was written in 1946 by Kurt Lewin. So, how much has changed since, and what’s the speed and impact of that change?

References:

http://www.comp.dit.ie/dgordon/Courses/ILT/ILT0003/ActionResearchandMinortyProblems.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_research

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