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Engaged or activist scholarship? Feminist reflections on philosophy, accountability and transformational potential

Rouse, Julia and Woolnough, H (2018) Engaged or activist scholarship? Feminist reflections on philosophy, accountability and transformational potential. International Small Business Journal, 36 (4). pp. 429-448. ISSN 0266-2426

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Abstract

Van De Ven’s Engaged Scholarship is becoming institutionalised in the academic profession. His argument that research is radically under-used and more likely to be employed if practitioners engage in shaping research questions and processes is convincing. Nevertheless, Engaged Scholarship has been little critiqued. This article draws on feminist critical realist ontology to compare its philosophy, accountability and transformational potential with a method more familiar to feminism: Activist research. Engaged Scholarship is found to be under laboured by a positivist ontology and strong social constructionist epistemology, skewed to the interests of power holders and unlikely to transform underlying social relations. Drawing on Activist Scholarship’s partisan accountability to the marginalised and commitment to collective action, but retaining the possibility of change by engaging power holders, we propose Engaged–Activist Scholarship, a method underlaboured by feminist critical realism, pluralist in its methodology, ambidextrous in its audience and accountable to transforming oppressive contexts.

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