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Unsettling Research

Using Critical Praxis and Activism to Create Uncomfortable Spaces


Sherilyn Lennon

Unsettling Research investigates what can be learned from the journey of an insider activist researcher seeking social transformations around issues of gender in an isolated rural Australian community. Unique and risky in its undertaking, the research evolves to create a new discourse in qualitative research. A seamless bricolage of autobiography/ethnography, narrative, feminist theory, critical theory, media literacy, critical pedagogy, and social theory, this work takes qualitative research to the next level. It enacts the notion of social justice, while creating a new lens through which to view action via research … research via action. The author allows the personal to establish positionality, and then works from within her position to create a meta-perspective on dialogue, action, and community manifestations of power. The analytic component of the research couples an ongoing process of coming-to-know with a need to address a community issue. By developing a conceptual framework and a process for disclosing and dislocating ideological hegemony and its associated power imbalances, the research adds to knowledge in the fields of gender and education, social justice, and nascent activist pedagogies. Whilst the particulars are located in Australia, the book creates a global lens for qualitative activist research.
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List of Figures


Figure 1.1. Articles that make use of a self-congratulatory discourse when referring to Wheatville (Wheatville Times)

Figure 1.2. A newspaper questioning the absence of boys at the local high school awards night (Wheatville Times)

Figure 1.3. A diagram capturing the evolutionary trajectory of the study

Figure 1.4. Bricolage Wordle

Figure 2.1. A purported extract from a mid-20th-century textbook

Figure 2.2. An interdepartmental minute paper from the 1960s

Figure 3.1. Image capturing my growth of consciousness and criticality

Figure 3.2. Cycle of inquiry, intervention, and self-discovery

Figure 3.3. Conceptual tenets underpinning this research

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