Emotionally charged research: engaging with the politics of action research

Louise Grisoni

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Like many of the authors contributing to this book, our experience leads us to argue that ‘objective’ action research does not exist – it is always political. Both of us have felt the ‘political heat’ of carrying out action research in organizations. This direct relationship between lived experience of the researcher and the wider research context connects back to references to ‘the personal is political’, a phrase originating in the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s, and extends to questions of whether social research can ever be independent and objective. We would argue that research – in particular action research – is constituted by a political and emotional relationship between researcher, participants and the worlds they inhabit. Recent years therefore have seen a growing range of challenges to the idea that research should be governed by the principle of value neutrality. Critical, feminist, antiracist and postmodern analyses have argued that social research is intrinsically political. Hardy (1994) suggested that politics occurs as actors in the organization mobilise power, and that power is entrenched in the relationship between actors rather than being an attribute of a particular individual. The importance of such an analysis is to emphasise the systemic and relational nature of power – and, therefore, of politics – in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearching with Feeling
Subtitle of host publicationThe Emotional Aspects of Social and Organizational Research
EditorsMike Broussine, Caroline Clarke, Linda Watts
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780203079577
ISBN (Print)9780415644358
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2015


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