Guiding research design principles:

Methodology, in general, cannot merely be reduced to an instrumentalist approach of methods only. Methodology is certainly more than our knowledge of using different research methods. Although methods are indeed key, methodology is also about process and the principles necessary for designing and guiding TDR processes in a transformative direction — something methods per se cannot do.

TTDR processes are normally embedded in some or other formative contextsshaping (changing) and being shaped (adapting) by the latter. When adopting narrative action research (NAR), the following principles play a key role in guiding the on-going re/designing of said dynamic TTDR processes:

  • Epistemic justice ~ refers to how knowledge is being co-produced in situations of unequal knowledge / power relations — and more specifically the unfairness built into systems of knowledge production, where certain viewpoints and personas are more represented and hold more power — aka epistemic injustice. Epistemic justice is the practice of redressing such imbalances in TTDR processes. Apart from the fairness involved in epistemic justice, there are also sound epistemological reasons for giving the hermeneutic power of interpretation back to storytellers: when facing real-world issues that are too complex for approaching purely from within academia, we are compelled to work with the experiential / practical knowledge of those social actors affected and being affected by the issues at hand.
  • Self-signification ~ when taken together with epistemic justice, self-signification means handing the hermeneutic power of interpretation back to storytellers (see: “Naturalising Sensemaking” on the publications page). This is important, because it is not necessarily possible to enter directly into others’ life-worlds (Lebenswelt). Attempting to do exactly this by the idealist hermeneutics of Schleiermacher has indeed proven to be a hermeneutic mission impossible over the years. A better approach to work with is Anthony Giddens’ notion of the double hermeneutic — or the meaningmaking of meaningmaking — self-signification — by working with the many diverse ways and means in which others interpret and make sense of their own worlds — rather than trying to do this for them.
  • Distributed ethnography1 2 — means working both within and across diverse groups of people and the many different ways & means in which they make sense of their own lived experiences / realities. In other words, working with and through many different sets of interpretive ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ as it were — not only those of the researchers.
  • Co-design ~ When taken together, the three principles of epistemic justice, self-signification and distributed cognition form a formidable trio of guiding principles for co-designing TTDR processes. In practice, this means co-constructing the tools with which to co-produce said systems, target and transformation knowledge (see homepage). When adopting NAR, this translates into co-constructing key aspects of the research tool — signification frameworks — prior to going into the field with which to collect the data / stories (see methods page).
  • Deep reflexive learning ~ this means the learning of learning — or in the words of Gregory Bateson1 2 triple-loop transformative learning. In the practice of TTDR processes, this means using the new insights and understandings gained from deep reflective learning for real-time decision-making and re-designing the directionality of the unfolding research process.

Note: working with these (internal) design principles per se will not necessarily guide TDR processes in a transformative direction. For this to happen, and for transdisciplinarity to be/come transformative, it is important for TDR processes to have express knowledge & human interests in contributing to social change and, consequently, to be guided by some appropriate praxis of change (PoC).