Research as Activism
Research is carried out with the goal of positive social and environmental change, in light of the overarching values above.
Traditionally, activism and research have been viewed and practiced as two different activities. By combining them, in light of the overarching values above, research can have greater benefits for movements like Transition.
Activist research blends research and activism, and is carried out towards particular goals of positive social and environmental change; in the case of Transition, in light of the overarching values above. In this way, research can become part of the overall goals of Transition. But non-activist or non-collaborative research can also contribute to these goals, and establishing an agreed level of collaboration helps to achieve this.
Research is often carried out for purely intellectually reasons, driven by the interests of researchers and its relevance to academic debates. There is no guarantee or even likelihood that such research will have any positive impacts. By reinforcing the status quo, it may even contradict basic values such as energy descent.
No research is apolitical. There are different forms of research as activism:
- Research undertaken by an activist within a group
- Being an external/academic researcher who is also an activist
- Research that usefully informs activist practice
- Research that is useful and useable by activist causes
It may mean academic researchers being or becoming activists, or activists being or becoming researchers. But this principle may also apply to research undertaken by researchers external to Transition, if the research furthers the goals and values of Transition.
Contrary to common assumptions, none of these forms need to be uncritical: it is recognised that critical thinking is productive, and critique of Transition can also play an important role in furthering the practices and goals of the movement. What is important here is that the research is relevant to Transition and its work, and so contributes to creating positive changerather than simply being driven by academic concerns that are unrelated .
In this way, research can become part of the overall work goals of Transition. Non-activist or non-collaborative research can also contribute to these goals, and discussion and dialogue at an early stage will help this to happen.
Develop activist research where research is combined with and/or contributes to and/or informs activist principles and action. This may work across scales, from single research practices and processes, through to the whole orientation towards research of an organisation.