Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 5 Issue 2 (May 1995), Pages fmi-fmi, 75-146

Basic human values: The ethos for methodology (pages 121-143)

Abstract

This paper draws on the personal experiences of part of a research project where the original methodology was flawed and needed to change to properly encompass the lives and experiences of the people who the research was for, namely users of mental health services living in supported housing. The change in methodology involved a recognition that the research could not be termed ‘value‐free’; that researchers are not objective. It is argued that it was important to demonstrate that the information obtained in the research was ‘valid’, and that despite the subjective nature of the research, there are steps that can be taken to convince others that the information received is ‘real’. It is further argued that the traditional approach to research of separating theory (or knowledge) from practice was not only inappropriate in this sort of research, but is a false notion in any sort of action research that aims to promote change. The importance of the influence and power of service providers in action research is recognised, as well as the constraints placed on short‐term funded projects. It was important for the methodology to be non‐oppressive so that researchers adopted an open and honest approach and for researchers to become involved with the research participants. The implications of this ‘involvement’ are discussed. There is a concluding discussion about whether non‐users of mental health services can be considered as allies in research. It is argued that all oppressed groups need their allies and if the research is led by basic human values, then working alongside people who depend on services can lead to emancipatory outcomes.

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