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      ‘Alongside but not in front’ : Reflections on engagement, disengagement and ethics in action research with workers



            This article starts by summarising the history of socially-engaged research on disadvantaged groups, pointing out that many of the social research methods currently in use in the field originated outside the academy, carried out by protagonists with a mission to draw attention to injustices and bring about social change. It then discusses the often-problematic relationship between researchers and the people whose working lives they research, especially in situations where the researchers are actively engaged in the struggles of their research subjects, for example when using methods such as workers’ inquiries or forms of action research. Two experienced researchers who have also themselves been active in workers’ organisations reflect on these issues in the form of a dialogue, a dialogue to which some workers who have been on the receiving end of such research respond. The article concludes by raising some further questions for future debate.


            Author and article information

            Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation
            Pluto Journals
            14 May 2022
            : 16
            : 1
            : 104-120

            All content is freely available without charge to users or their institutions. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission of the publisher or the author. Articles published in the journal are distributed under a http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

            Page count
            Pages: 17

            Sociology,Labor law,Political science,Labor & Demographic economics,Political economics
            Action research,ethics,workers’ inquiries,history of social research


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