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Number 1 February 2000

A Peek into the World of Action Research

A New Dissertation in Sociology

Maria Forsman, February 25, 2000

Arja Kuula's dissertation in sociology was examined in the beginning of January at the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Tampere. She works as a Research Officer at the FSD.

coverThe dissertation "Action research; fieldwork and aiming at change" deals with both the history and methodic basis of action research and its everyday practises. Arja Kuula has herself carried out action research and out of this, her interest grew to study what action research actually is and how other researchers have experienced it. The empirical part of the study is based on 20 letters she had asked for and received from other researchers. The letters tell a lot about researchers in action research, their ideals and endeavours to make some things better They also bear witness to the controversial position of the researcher, on one hand in the community that is his or her object of study, on the other, in the academic scientific community. The study also sheds light into the contemporary world of the university, researcher communities and the work of a researcher.

What then, is action research? Arja Kuula describes it as follows: "Orientation towards practises, aiming at change and the participation of those studied in the research process, are the features shared by different action research studies. Despite these common aspects, the theories applied or developed, the objects of study and posing of questions may be quite different indeed." (p. 10) She emphasises that action research is not a school of thought but a way to outline the relationship between the reality of research and of the person studied.

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