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Concepts and Transformation

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ISSN 1384-6639
E-ISSN 1569-9692

<p>This problem-driven journal focused on the role of social research in workplace reform and organizational renewal. It presented new perspectives on the relationship between theory and practice in social science. </p><p><em><strong>Volume 9 (2004) last volume published.</strong></em></p>

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  • The action turn: Toward a transformational social science
    • Authors: Peter Reason, and William Torbert
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 6, Issue 1, 2001, pages: 1 –37
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    • We offer an epistemological basis for action research, in order to increase the validity, the practical significance, and the transformational potential of social science. We start by outlining some of the paradigmatic issues which underlie action research, arguing for a “turn to action” which will complement the linguistic turn in the social sciences. Four key dimensions of an action science are discussed: the primacy of the practical, the centrality of participation, the requirement for experiential grounding, and the importance of normative, analogical theory. Three broad strategies for action research are suggested: first-person research/practice addresses the ability of a person to foster an inquiring approach to his or her own life; second-person research/practice engages a face-to-face group in collaborative inquiry; third-person research/practice asks how we can establish inquiring communities which reach beyond the immediate group to engage with whole organizations, communities and countries. The article argues that a transformational science needs to integrate first- second- and third-person voices in ways that increase the validity of the knowledge we use in our moment-to-moment living, that increase the effectiveness of our actions in real-time, and that remain open to unexpected transformation when our taken-for-granted assumptions, strategies, and habits are appropriately challenged. Illustrative references to studies that begin to speak to these questions are offered.
  • From employee to ‘entreployee’: Towards a ‘self-entrepreneurial’ work force?
    • Authors: Hans J. Pongratz, and G. Günter Voß
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 8, Issue 3, 2003, pages: 239 –254
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    • This paper presents the argument that we are witnessing a fundamental transformation in society’s disposition of labor capacity, seen in changes in the labor strategy of large employers. This may be leading to a new type of labor power that could be called ‘self-entrepreneurial’. In the paper’s first part the concept of the ‘entreployee’ (Arbeitskraftunternehmer) is presented briefly, after which, the second part examines several important theoretical objections to the concept, raised in the course of current German debate.
  • Action research: Unfulfilled promises and unmet challenges
    • Author: Davydd J. Greenwood
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2002, pages: 117 –139
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    • This article examines how and why the academically-based social sciences, both pure and applied, have lost their relevance to practical human affairs (praxis) and links this discussion to the reasons why action research is a marginal activity in the academic and policy worlds. It also contains a harsh critique of action research practice focused on action researchers’ combined sense of moral superiority over conventional researchers and general complacency about fundamental issues of theory, method, and validity. The central argument is that “doing good” is not the same as “doing good social research” and that we action researchers need to hold ourselves accountable to higher standards, not only to compete with conventional social research but for the benefit of the non-academic stakeholders in action research projects.
  • Conceptualising the opening phase of regional development as the enactment of a ‘collective identity’
    • Authors: Daniel Hjorth, and Bengt Johannison
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2003, pages: 69 –92
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    • This paper argues that processes of regional development have to be conceptualised in a novel way. The dominant approach displays a bias towards a macro-perspective, often reproduces a centre — periphery model, and favours an economism that aims at the production of instruments for policy makers and academics alike, both enjoying the convenience of (bureaucratic and analytical) distance. Instead we propose a constructionist approach. This is developed through a critical discussion of the received view, and builds upon the central concepts of ‘enacted collective identity’, ‘articulation/translation’, and an upgrading of the importance of time in the sense of timing. We limit this study, which includes two empirical cases, to the ‘opening phase’ of a regional development process. We identify a new role for the researcher in articulating the need for and opportunities of a regional development, and we stress a more decentralised form of public support.
  • Action research and the problem of the single case
    • Author: Bjørn Gustavsen
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2003, pages: 93 –99
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    • In his article in Volume 7, No.2 of Concepts and Transformation, Greenwood lays the ground for a self-critical review of action research. This is very much called for but there is a need to avoid this review becoming a revival of yesterday’s “famous cases”. Major parts of today’s action research are oriented towards social movements, learning regions and other levels of organisation far beyond the small group.The associated research challenges can be met only by developing new research platforms and seeking new alliances with other branches of research.
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