Lather, Patti. “Research as Praxis.” Harvard Education Review 56 (1986): 257-77.

  • The primary goal of this essay is to involve researchers in the democratized process of research that emphasizes negotiation, reciprocity, and empowerment in the interest of the researched subjects – something of a Frierian emancipatory research as practice.
  • The writer draws on feminist, neo-Marxist critical ethnography, and Frierian participatory research to create her research as praxis.
  • Postpostitivist research is marked by approaches to inquiry which recognize that knowledge is ‘socially constituted, historically embedded, and  valuationally based.  Theory serves an agentic function and research illustrates, rather than provides a truth test” (259).
  • The author wants to create an empirical research that can be used to change the world to the better.  A large portion of the essay (258-61) is used to describe studies where this sort of work was done in the late 70s and early 80s.
  • This article champions the feminist research ethical moves of reciprocity and self-reflection (262).
  • To make theory tenable and usable, a reciprocal relationship between theory and data must emerge.  Theory must be supported by data and data collected in the future must revise theory in light of new turns.  This is critical reflection that allows us to move beyond simply assigning theoretical positions to things that are complex and difficult to understand.
  • Triangulation is crucial for creating valid data (270).  Also, construct validity must be present to ground studies in theoretical constructs (Latour is spinning at his desk on this assumption/claim).  The systematized reflexivity of theory and data is crucial in maintaining validity of data.
  • According to the author, “This essay has one essential argument: a more collaborative approach to critical inquiry is needed to empower the researched, to build emancipatory theory, and to move toward the establishment of data credibility within praxis oriented, advocacy research” (272).

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