Action research with immigrants

Working with vulnerable immigrant communities

Authored by: Rigoberto Rodriguez

Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415779722
eBook ISBN: 9780203863299
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183493


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Public, private, non-profit, and public organizations are increasingly using Action Research (AR) to engage individuals and communities to address problems that affect their well-being (Dick 2006, 2009).The proliferating use of AR raises questions about whether there is alignment between the interests of organizations sponsoring AR projects and the communities involved in these projects. Over a decade ago, Hagey (1997, p. 2) called attention to the abuses of AR, especially by principal investigators serving as agents for powers interested in managing the community, infantilizing community leaders and belittling their problem-solving skills, and turning local leaders and young people into research assistants while wresting away their control over the research project. In addition to manipulation, organizations can use AR projects to reinforce political ideologies that marginalize immigrant communities. My research with Mexican immigrants involved in AR projects sponsored by state-organized, private—public partnerships revealed that immigrants were being trained to support, rather than to challenge, broader neo-liberal and neo-conservative political projects that marginalize them (Rodriguez 2007).

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