Advocacy/participatory approach to research (emancipatory)

To some degree, researchers adopting an advocacy/participatory approach feel that the approaches to research described so far do not respond to the needs or situation of people from marginalised or vulnerable groups. As they aim to bring about positive change in the lives of the research subjects, their approach is sometimes described as emancipatory. It is not a neutral stance. The researchers are likely to have a political agenda and to try to give the groups they are studying a voice. As they want their research to directly or indirectly result in some kind of reform, it is important that they involve the group being studied in the research, preferably at all
stages, so as to avoid further marginalising them.

The researchers may adopt a less neutral position than that which is usually required in scientific research. This might involve interacting informally or even living amongst the research participants (who are sometimes referred to as co-researchers in recognition that the study is not simply about them but also by them). The findings of the research might be reported in more
personal terms, often using the precise words of the research participants. Whilst this type of research could by criticised for not being objective, it should be noted that for some groups of people or for certain situations, it is necessary as otherwise the thoughts, feelings or behaviour of the various members of the group could not be accessed or fully understood.

Vulnerable groups are rarely in a position of power within society. For this reason, researchers are sometimes members of the group they are studying or have something in common with the members of the group

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