A survey on research and activism

Tina Palivos (Athens) is conducting research on this issue and looks for a maximum of responses. The topic is, to say the least, timely, so please do participate. What follows is the English survey; surveys in other languages (Spanish, French, Greek) are available on request. Copy the survey, alert colleagues to it, please do fill it out and email it to Tina Palivos:  tpalivos@gmail.com

Responding to the survey will take, depending on the length of answers, anything between 20 and 40 minutes.

SURVEY (English)

Dear Colleagues:

We are interested in exploring and bridging the assumed or actual tensions between research and social action, as well as academic and activist worlds. Note, we approach research and social action as activities that all persons engage in, and they are not necessarily restricted to academic OR activist worlds. Nevertheless, research and social action, and communities of academics and activists, have greater potential for overlap than is often acknowledged.

We realize that the terms social action, research, academic, activist are flexible and difficult to define/describe. Yet they have significant impact in shaping relationships, institutions, audiences, professional identities, and the boundaries of (il)legitimate knowledge. Rather than starting with a pre-conceived idea of what we mean by them, we are hoping to get a sense of how YOU define or redefine them and how you see the the relationships that they imply.

We appreciate your taking the time to answer a few open‐ended questions and prompts. Please answer the questions as you see fit: if you don’t like the questions or the terms, please feel free to rephrase them.

1) How would you define or describe research  and social action? Tell us a little bit about your background and your experience in both of these areas.

2) Briefly describe academic knowledge or know‐how? Activist knowledge or know‐how?

3) Do you see them as distinct? If yes, how? How do they overlap, if at all?

4) In your experience, how do these areas complement each other?

5) For you, what are the tensions or conflicts between activism and academic work that you have come across? What would you do (or have you done) to resolve these conflicts or tensions?

6) What do you think are the most important and necessary ways in which research and social action could be linked, bridged, or integrated?

7) Are there any stumbling blocks or concerns you would have around projects that seek to bridge or bring together research and social action, and academic and activist worlds, to create modes of knowledge and collaboration? How might these be ameliorated?

Demographic and Background  Information

In addition to anything that you want to add yourself, the following factors would be useful in helping us consider how position, background, demographic facts, and social status may shape one’s capacity to produce and disseminate knowledge, and whether that knowledge is considered legitimate.

8) What institutions have you worked at (NGO, university, private sector, etc.)?

9) What is your age range?

10) How would you describe your class background? How about aspects of gender and race? How do you see these shaping your approach/ access to knowledge and action?

11) How would you describe your professional trajectory? Where are you in your professional trajectory? (IE, do you have a stable position, are you “senior,” do you have a contract position, no formal position?).

12) In what parts of the world have you worked, lived, or collaborated/ consulted? And in what capacity (director, volunteer, consultant, policy analyst, fieldworker, etc.)?


Author: jmeblommaert

Taalkundig antropoloog-sociolinguist, hoogleraar Taal, Cultuur en Globalisering aan Tilburg University. Politiek publicist.

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