Is changing who leads research a methodological innovation?


Emancipatory research is controlled by the people who are usually the subjects of research and who are implicated by it, whether this be disabled people, older people, survivors of mental health services or other marginalised groups. While labelled differently child-led or user-led research involves this same change in who is in charge of the process of knowledge production. There is a notion of accountability to the people involved and others in their situation and of working towards tackling their social oppression. This paper explores what this change means for innovation in research methods. If, as many argue, this methodological turn is more about political philosophy than a set of techniques, then does it leave the techniques unchanged and does this constitute a methodological innovation? The paper draws on data from two recent research projects to examine this issue: an ESRC study of quality and capacity in inclusive research with people with learning disabilities and an NCRM study of methodological innovations in the social sciences including a case study of child-led research. By focusing on concepts and practices in tandem the paper illustrates some of the contradictions in an apparent paradigm shift. <br/

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