1st Edition

Principles and Methods of Transformative Action Research A Half Century of Living and Doing Collaborative Inquiry

By John A. Bilorusky Copyright 2021
    238 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Principles and Methods of Transformative Action Research delves into both general principles and specific methods for basic steps in the action research process—asking questions, gathering and analyzing data, communicating findings, and pursuing action.

    The role of collaboration is emphasized, with strategies of value to experts and engaged citizens in doing participatory research and community-based knowledge-building. Detailed attention is given to specific strategies of interviewing, participant observation, and judging and weighing evidence. The book draws on creative and critically minded elements of scientific traditions, such as transparency in telling the "story" of one’s inquiry, identifying data that are "exceptions to the rule," and the value of non-formulaic, improvisational designs. Quite distinctively, the book addresses how to write in one’s own voice, how to integrate action-and-inquiry into one’s everyday life, issues of ethics and social responsibility, and how to consider both immediate, practical needs and "bigger picture," systemic challenges.

    This book can serve as an undergraduate or graduate social sciences text on research methods. It is also a guidebook for action-oriented research by academics, professionals, and lay people, alike in community agencies, schools, and grassroots organizations, and for socially relevant academic research concerned with social justice, multiculturalism, and inclusiveness.

    Part A. The Foundations  1. Introduction  2. Principles, Themes and Concepts  3. Building on Intellectual Traditions  4. Research and Society are Interconnected;  Part B. Methods of Action Research—Steps in the Process  5. Asking Questions  6. Data Gathering and Sampling  7. Data Analysis  8. Collaborating and Communicating  9. Issues and Strategies of Quantitative Analysis;  Part C. Important Considerations in Doing Transformative Action Research  10. Immediate Tasks and the Bigger Picture  11. Inquiring More Deeply  12. Community Knowledge Building  13. Ethical Considerations  14. Concluding Remarks


    John A. Bilorusky (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is co-founder of the Western Institute for Social Research in Berkeley. For 45 years, as a faculty member there, he has guided hundreds of student action research theses, dissertations, and projects, and consulted with dozens of community agencies and colleges on action research.

    "This is a guidebook on how to rethink the way teachers teach, researchers think, and citizens make change. Building on a wide range of great thinkers--Thomas Kuhn on scientific creativity, Paulo Freire on learner-centered education, John Dewey on learning--Bilorusky lays out the steps through which we can do transformative action research. Based on his experience co-founding and heading the Western Institute for Social Research, he unites what we imagine as necessarily separate—the project of developing new ideas, mastering a discipline, working in community, building on diversity and making change. A highly important book on how to reshape our institutions and move forward in better ways." -- Arlie Hochschild, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of California, Berkeley, author of Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, a finalist for the National Book Award in 2016.

    "At last, we have an authoritative publication that details the foundation, methods, and important considerations of the ‘the WISR way’—five decades of teaching, learning and doing Transformative Action Research at the Western Institute for Social Research. In Volume I, Dr. John Bilorusky and his colleagues offer a road map for researchers interested in a form of collaborative inquiry that encourages reflexivity and engagement as integral priorities, not options, for transformative social change. Hurrah!" -- Joyce. E. King, Benjamin E. Mays Endowed Chair for Urban Teaching, Learning & Leadership, College of Education & Human Development, Georgia State University, Past-President, The American Educational Research Association

    "Berkeley's Western Institute for Social Research has been a premier undergraduate and graduate school for integrating multicultural academics and community-centered change. For fifty years teachers and students at this school have complemented the work of Ibram X. Kendi, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Paulo Freire, and Myles Horton to promote community-based multicultural learning. This excellent volume examines approaches to conceptual and theoretical inquiry and shows how the school's activist scholars apply grounded theory, ethnography, authentic writing, and social transformation in the United States and around the world." -- T. D. Dickinson, Professor Emerita, Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, Kansas State University