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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.
  • Articulating Practices: Methods and Experiences: Articulating a Practice from within the Practice Itself: Establishing Formative Dialogues by the Use of a 'Social Poetics'
    • Authors: John Shotter, and Arlene M. Katz
    • Source: Concepts and Transformation, Volume 1, Issue 2-3, 1996, pages: 213 –237
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    • In this article we describe a set of methods — which we call a 'social poetics ' —for use by a group of practitioners in coming to a more articulate grasp of their own practices, thus to develop them. Crucially influenced by Wittgenstein 's (1953) claims — that "Nothing is hidden" from us in our conduct of our practices, and that "the origin and primitive form of the language-game is a reaction " — we show how the methods of philosophical investigation he outlines can also be used to great effect in our everyday affairs. They work, not in terms of concepts or theories worked out ahead of time in committee rooms or research laboratories by experts, but in terms of certain practical uses of language, at crucial points within the ongoing conduct of a practice, by those involved in it. Crucially, they lead us to focus on novelties, on new but unnoticed possibilities for 'going on' available to us in our present circumstances, but present to us usually in only fleeting moments. If we can allow ourselves to be 'struck by' these novelties, then we can often go on, not to solve what had been seen as a problem, but to develop new ways forward, in which the old problems become irrelevant.
  • 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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