In Spain, we are looking forward to the Third Annual Summer Workshop, in part inspired by the UK ESRC NCRM Research Methods Festivals. The focus is on transformative research. In times of alliances between neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, research, especially in the social sciences and humanities, is turning towards more instrumental positions. However, there is increasing need for research shift to move from existing, deeply segregated and commodified models to research centred in the people it concerns1 and in the social processes of change that allows personal and societal transformation. Such research would be based on collaborative strategies that are more horizontal and at the service of the communities2.
In the field of Education, the situation is particularly dramatic, as educational policies seem to be in a technocratic and market-oriented loop, which paradoxically cancels any debate on the educational meaning of pedagogical practices, or turns education exclusively into a problem of training towards the professional market. The loss of, or even worst, the taking for granted of ontological, epistemological, axiological and methodological foundations is a constant.
Faced with this scenario, there are different onto-epistemological and methodological proposals acting in complex socio-educational scenarios, supporting and developing transformative projects. These represent a different orientation against hegemonic practices and models based on different assumptions on such essential questions as: (i) the vision, the representation and the value of knowledge; (ii) the methodological procedures; (iii) the consideration of the subjects involved; and (iv) the institutional and academic practices of doing research. Creating another educational model, another kind of educational institution and type of educational relations needs another way of investigating that contributes to this transformation.
We understand knowledge as a social and collective construction, against the standardized and protocolized knowledge that characterizes the technicalist and the neoliberal proposal. From this perspective, an onto-epistemological turn to re-situate the human as an articulating axis of educational and social thought, understood as a historical and collective process to place us in the world seems necessary.
From this positioning, we feel compelled to re-think research methodologies more as a way of constructing the world together rather than as a set of established procedures and techniques. This means exploring strategies from inside of the communities in which to investigate, and on horizontal processes based on cooperation and shared reflexivity. In this way, the methodological becomes a part of the process of political resistance to the instrumental position it currently exercises. The subject and the community become two necessary props to think about other research. Thus, research questions, problems to be investigated, objectives and ways to explore them take on a different dimension.
These premises are what move us to prepare the Third Annual Summer Workshop on Transformative and Inclusive Social and Educational Research3. The workshops is organized by REUNI+D, as part of its activity as a network of educational research groups. In this case, under the responsibility of the research group Procie of the University of Malaga, with the support of the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods. It is a step in the line initiated by the First Annual Summer Workshop in 2015, on Alternative Methods in Social Research, organised by the research group ESBRINA, of the University de Barcelona. In addition, the Second Annual Summer Workshop in 2016, on Alternative Methods in Social Research: Visual Methods, arranged by ELKARRIKERTUZ of the University of the Basque Country.
The workshop is especially oriented for doctoral students and faculty involved in research oriented towards change and social and educational transformation, as well as postgraduate students in Education, Social Sciences and Humanities. It is intended to generate a space for presentation, debate and collective construction around social and educational issues, in order to advance in our commitment with another way of understanding not only research but also society. We propose to talk about shared construction, authorship and authority in research processes, of relationships between subjects (researchers, researched), of recipients of results, of processes of dissemination. Thinking of transformative and inclusive research modifies our gazes, focuses, problems, scenarios, hierarchies, objectives and roles, among other factors. The event will have a practical orientation in which participants will be able to bring in their research as part of the debate. It will last three days and in the mornings, invited speakers will share their research implemented from this perspective. Afternoons will be dedicated to workshops around research experiences focussed on transformation, community, collaboration and horizontality.
Submitted by José Ignacio Rivas-Flores, University of Málaga; Juana M. Sancho, and Fernando Hernández-Hernández, University of Barcelona on Wednesday, 22nd March 2017