Perspectives in Education

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Critical emancipatory research for social justice and democratic citizenship

MM Nkoane


This article proposes a research paradigm located within the respectful relationship between participants and researcher(s) towards construction of positive holding, interactions and invitational environments which privilege social justice. I outline power as expressed at the heart of any form of human society through communication. For analysing power relations, issues of social justice and democratic citizenship become central. This article also demonstrates that social justice in research depends on interactions between the participants and researcher(s). I further argue for the need to engage with the methodological expectations of critical emancipatory research (CER), using the power of language and communication. I interrogate and trouble the power of text in the form of spoken or written words or any other means of communication. In addition, the article conceptualises communication as a medium of expression between the researcher(s) and participants; the researcher should not be regarded as aloof from the conditions of the participants. Therefore, the argument developed for social justice and democratic citizenship is that researcher(s) should be sensitive to the plight of all participants, recognising their voices or experiences. The article concludes by acknowledging the fact that human language is a product of human communication and that communication is important for knowledge production.

Keywords: Social justice, democratic citizenship, narratives, critical emancipatory research, power relations, discourse analysis

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