Call for abstracts: Marginalised forms of knowledge in relation to change


With this call, Research and Change is looking for contributions that highlight the relationship between marginalised, bypassed, disparaged, or unrecognised knowledge and the opportunities people have to contribute to improving the circumstances of their lives. What we are looking for are: 1) Empirically-based analyses of specific research projects working for, with, or within marginalised life and knowledge situations, 2) The analysis and discussion of experimental methods to reveal forms of knowledge that are marginalised, neglected, or ignored, and 3) Theoretical and philosophical analyses of the fundamental, substratal issues, and research challenges connected with investigating what contribution to change can be made by marginalised forms of knowledge. We are also looking for contributions that illuminate and examine openings, dilemmas, and tensions in research that is deeply involved in social inequality, societal reform, and change.

Such openings, dilemmas, and tensions in research into, for and involving marginalised views has been a major challenge for research since the earliest ethnographic, sociological, and social psychological studies of social inequality and social conflicts. The early pioneer works include: Marie Jahoda's studies of the psychosocial effects of unemployment in Marienthal during the depression of the interwar years, William Foote Whyte's study of gang organisations and social structures among Italian immigrants in Boston in 1940, and Kurt Lewin's studies of social conflicts and the relationship between research, training, and action in relation to social change in the 1940s. The early studies of marginalised, vulnerable, and socially bypassed forms of life and knowledge laid the foundation stone of some very important, internal academic soul-searching in the field of research – all about interpreting and changing the relationship between researchers, laymen, and social structures. In the wake of these studies there arose a new methodological interest in research that highlights marginalised views, focusing on how and to what extent that research can and should help to redress people's unequal opportunities in terms of participating authoritatively in shaping their own lives and the way they live them in practice.

Since that time, many suggestions as to how such contributions from research can be designed have been developed and tested. Often, such suggestions have been formulated and tested by actors on the fringe of or outside the traditional research community. By Paolo Freire, for example, and the civil rights movement, both of which helped to sketch the outline of emancipatory pedagogy, which uses dialogue as a pedagogical principle aiming to help people towards reflection and empowerment in relation to their own social situation. Dialogue and reflection are key concepts in the more recent contributions of action research, which, by systematically highlighting the meaning of a participatory worldview, looked to expand both epistemology and methods that invite neglected or marginalised forms of knowledge and life to a more manifest involvement in their own societal activity.

However, research aimed at more sustainable, inclusive, democratic, and fair forms of social organisation is still facing considerable, methodological, and epistemological challenges. For example, such challenges emerge in connection with language and conceptualisation, in that the designation of people as vulnerable, marginalised, oppressed, or incapacitated can have a stigmatising, exclusive, or demeaning effect on participants, process, and results. How may research express itself at all on this theme in ways that respectfully and appreciatively invite people to participate, revealing knowledge that has been ignored? Challenges also appear in the form of critical questions as to how the manner in which research itself claims to 'know' affects the ability of researchers to see, recognise, and reflect on multiple and varied types of knowledge. How can research at all catch sight of knowledge that has been othered – and how can such knowledge contribute significantly to processes of change? We need an internal critical discussion of how
research can be done into, with and for the benefit of marginalised forms of life and knowledge. And research needs to shoulder this task itself – perhaps more than ever.

Articles for this special issue may illuminate challenges, openings, dilemmas, and investigations of the relationship between marginalised knowledge and change. We are particularly looking for discussions related to the following issues:
- Who are included, and who rejected when research throws out a broad invitation to participate in the development of social policies and organization? And what effect does it have on participants, processes, and results if research projects often only invite new forms of participation for a shorter period of time?
- Can research highlight social inequality, marginalisation, and vulnerability using language, concepts, and/or action which do not at the same time stigmatise participants or exclude multiple ways of knowing?
- How can we establish frameworks of participation which do not at the same time marginalise forms of participation - and can/should all forms of participation be legitimate? May perhaps even participatory research traditions tend to marginalise forms of knowledge and experience that cannot be articulated linguistically, culturally, or symbolically?
- How can particular empirical projects be seen as examples of a broader scientific and normative interest in listening to otherwise overheard voices? And what is the relationship between normative questions and those related to the philosophy of science?
- How, when, and why can (and should) researchers and participants experiment with research practices, so that all voices, including the non-linguistic, bodily, and sensory ones, are heard? And what value(s) lie(s) behind experimental, change-oriented, and co-creative aspects of research?

Practical information

Editors of this issue:
Mia Husted, Reader, University College Copenhagen, Denmark
Julie Borup Jensen, Associate Professor, University of Aalborg, Denmark
Anne Harju, Associate Professor, Malmö University, Sweden

Deadline for abstracts: August 20, 2021

Language: Abstracts can be submitted in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or English.

Length: Max 500 words.
The author should describe the projected structure and content of the article and cover the following points (in the order relevant to the article):

  • Aims
  • Conceptual/theoretical framework
  • Research design/methodology
  • Results
  • Limits/boundaries
  • Research and/or practical implications
  • Contribution to the development of knowledge

Abstracts must be uploaded to the journal's digital platform. You must register as a user to upload. Please note that usernames must not contain capital letters or spaces.
If you have any questions, please contact: Editorial Assistant, Signe Kierkegaard Cain: