Eight-Point Project: Action Research, as a Development Tool for Non-Profit Organizations

Eight-Point Project: Action Research, as a Development Tool for Non-Profit Organizations

Sara Csillag (Budapest Business School, Hungary), Eva Balázs (Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities Non Profit Ltd, Hungary), Mihály Kocsis (University of Pécs, Hungary), Tessza Udvarhelyi (Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities Non Profit Ltd, Hungary) and Iren Vago (Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities Non Profit Ltd, Hungary)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0731-4.ch022
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

In this chapter the authors report the outcomes of a year-long action research project in which engaged researchers of different professional fields tried to support non-profit institutions and their staff to develop the Hungarian care system for autistic people, re-instill the above-mentioned courage of individuals and teams (composed of psychologists, social workers, special education teachers and parents) and to invent and adopt new processes and procedures. Coordinated and supported by a central research team, 27 non-profit care institutions in the fields of education, employment, housing and social services, healthcare and crisis intervention from all over Hungary led their own action research.
Chapter Preview
Top

What Is Action Research?

The theory of action research is far from an integrated or consistent theory. One can see a large variety of theoretical approaches and practical applications (developed dominantly in the past 30 years), but their common characteristics can be unambiguously identified. Reason and Bradbudy (2001) define their ‘participative research’ and ‘action research’ concepts with the same meaning as a collective concept, and offer the following definition: ‘action research is a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowledge in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in participatory worldview... It seeks to bring together action and reflexion, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities’ (Reason & Bradbury, 2001, p. 2).

The most important purpose of action research is to produce practical knowledge that is useful to people in the everyday conduct of their lives („the primacy of the practical”). In a wider interpretation it aims to develop man and communities and propagate new forms of understanding, as well as establish a harmonic interrelationship between emancipation and the wider ecosystem. So action research is also about creating new forms of understanding and generating knowledge – it is based on the belief that action without reflection and understanding is blind, just as theory without action is meaningless. Basically action research is connecting theory and action in order to create both practical and theoretical results.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Medical View of Disability: According to the medical view, disability is an individual problem, a personal tragedy to be pitied, an individual pathology and a medical problem to be treated. The medical view is challenged by the social view of disability, which says that the problem of disability is ‘socially constructed and produced’ (Oliver 1990) so it should be located firmly in the structure of society. ‘Disabling’ attitudes and a ‘disabling’ environment (e.g. values, education, modes of production, political economy, welfare systems) have to be examined and changed, leaving behind the individualistic and pathological view of disability ( Perry & Felce 2004 ; Tregaskis & Goodley 2005 ).

Action Research: Action research is an interactive inquiry process that balances problem solving actions implemented in a collaborative context with data-driven collaborative research to understand underlying causes, thereby enabling future predictions about personal and organizational change. The theory of action research is far from an integrated or consistent theory. One can see a large variety of theoretical approaches and practical applications (developed dominantly in the past 30 years), but their common characteristics can be unambiguously identified. Reason and Bradbudy (2001) define their ‘participative research’ and ‘action research’ concepts with the same meaning as a collective concept, and offer the following definition: ‘action research is a participatory, democratic process concerned with developing practical knowledge in the pursuit of worthwhile human purposes, grounded in participatory worldview... It seeks to bring together action and reflexion, theory and practice, in participation with others, in the pursuit of practical solutions to issues of pressing concern to people, and more generally the flourishing of individual persons and their communities’ ( Reason and Bradbury, 2001 , p. 2).

Social View of Disability: According to the social view of disability, the problem of disability is ‘socially constructed and produced’ so it should be located firmly in the structure of society. ‘Disabling’ attitudes and a ‘disabling’ environment (e.g. values, education, modes of production, political economy, welfare systems) have to be examined and changed, leaving behind the individualistic and pathological view of disability. It is basically challenging the medical view of disability, in which the disability is an individual problem, a personal tragedy to be pitied, an individual pathology and a medical problem to be treated.

Primacy of Practical: Primacy of practical relates to research knowledge results that might be utilised in practice, whereas theoretical knowledge created mainly for the academic community will only be of secondary importance.

Persons with Disability: According to the definition that emerged from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006, 4) ‘persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others’.

Autism: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviour.). ASD is characterized by a triad of symptoms: (1) impairments in social interactions; (2) impairments in communication; and (3) restricted interests and repetitive behavior ( Rutter, 2011 ). At the moment, there is no cure for ASD, but there is strong evidence that appropriate lifelong educational approaches, support by families and professionals, and the provision of high quality community services can dramatically improve the lives of persons with ASD and their families ( Renty & Roeyers, 2006 ).

Disability: disability is the consequence of an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or some combination of these that result in restrictions on an individual's ability to participate in what is considered “normal” in their everyday society. A disability may be present from birth, or occur during a person's lifetime.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset