Using Critical Praxis and Activism to Create Uncomfortable Spaces
Chapter 4: Constructing a Study of Complexity
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CONSTRUCTING A STUDY OF COMPLEXITY
Framing the Research
Initially inspired by a desire to address the disproportionately high number of underperforming male students in Wheatville’s schools, ultimately the research evolved to become a study of a study probing the boundaries of critical qualitative research. As a politically motivated, passionate, and insider researcher, I set about excavating and dislocating asymmetries of power and their ideological frameworks, discourses, practices, and structures. The primary purpose of the research became theorizing what could be learned from my journey.
Whilst the theoretical framework I used rejected a positivist approach, this did not mean that quantitative data collection techniques weren’t at times useful. Statistics comparing boys’ and girls’ academic and behavioral achievements were helpful in highlighting gender anomalies and contradictions. The reports and graphs produced using these data sets helped to trigger the inquiry process. Questions adopted and adapted from the work of Kincheloe and McLaren (2005) assisted me in making sense of the quantitative data. This, in turn, advanced the conceptual and epistemological development of the study. Questions included: Why are these data so? How has this ← 59 | 60 → situation come to be? Who might be advantaged/disadvantaged? What are the social implications of these results? Are there alternatives? What would be a better outcome? How might this be achieved? What happens when a community’s practices and beliefs are challenged? What happens when community members are asked to rethink their gender roles and representations?
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