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A critical analysis of participatory research in the social sciences




Russell, Gregory, author
Champ, Joseph, advisor
Arthur, Tori, committee member
Carcasson, Martin, committee member
Flores, David, committee member
Humphrey, Michael, committee member

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In this dissertation, I put forward ethical, methodological, and epistemological reasons that warrant the presence of participants in the appraisal of social scientific research products. I discuss the nature of appraisal through Wittgenstein's linguistic philosophy and use it to support the claim that participatory research holds the capacity to improve formalized appraisal processes in cultural research. Extending the critique into a consideration of Western and Indigenous epistemologies, I attempt to deconstruct the ways in which Western academic research, specifically social scientific research, perpetrates colonialism and how, through participatory research, social scientific research practices might begin the process of decolonization. I then discuss how descriptive analytic techniques can make participant appraisal viable in academic contexts by showing how participatory strategies can license non-immersive data-collection methods, e.g., general interview-based research, in ways that are typically associated with those that are immersive, e.g., participant-observation.


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participatory research
insider-outsider positionality
peer review


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