An outline of a theory of practice methodologies: Education research as an expansive-activist endeavour
chapterposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Julianne LynchJulianne Lynch, Julie Rowlands, Trevor Gale, Stephen Parker
This chapter introduces the notion of activist practice methodologies, illuminated through a focus on education research that is informed by practice theory and framed by an explicitly normative regard for education. It identifies and responds to some of the topographies of expansive practice theories; some of the onto-epistemological challenges these topographies create for researchers; and the relationship between methodologies and axiology, especially within education research where social justice values collide spectacularly with policy discourses around competition, the market and particular framings of evidence. Thus established, the chapter outlines key features of research that deploy theories of practice in pursuit of normative ends, developed in conversation with other chapters in this collection. We theorise that within education research, methodologies informed by expansive practice theories are derived from research axiologies that are activist in intent and that these methodologies respond to the onto-epistemological challenges of those same theories. In our account, activist practice methodologies are invested with normative ideals, specifically to advance social justice—in this case, in and through education. This work often involves novel arrangements of theory, new approaches to data, and experimental approaches to research writing. Amid the onto-epistemological angst thrown up by expansive practice theories, activist practice methodologies do not give up on method but persist in developing new ways to apprehend and engage practice. Five interrelated aspects of activist practice methodologies are discussed: activist axiologies; re-constituting the ethical subject in research practice; theory as method; more-than-representational data; and restive accounts of research.