Enabling participation through partnership : emancipatory research : the potential for change for disabled people : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Social Policy and Social Work at Massey University
This thesis presents an example of emancipatory research used within the field of disability studies. It argues that research can be conducted in a way which more directly addresses the needs of disabled people and involves them in its design and delivery. The key questions examine the role of emancipatory research in enabling disabled people to take control of their lives and to accomplish change in their immediate environment. Secondary questions explore the contribution of critical theorists Brian Fay and Stuart Rees in informing a model of emancipatory research and their work has been adapted to act as a framework for the thesis. The challenges researchers face when embarking on this type of research are confronted in a realistic and constructive way. It is argued that the achievement of a definition of 'emancipatory' more often depends on the attitudes and values of the researcher and the resulting impact on those whose lives are central to the research. The thesis describes how a group of twelve disabled students formed the Disability Action Research Group (DARG), identified some goals for change in their immediate environment and subsequently developed a disability equity training package to be delivered to the staff of Victoria University. The journey from action research group to the development of a training group with a legal status instigated by the students of DARG is presented, offering some landmarks for others wishing to engage in similar activities.. The key theme of partnership represents the potential for alliances between disabled people as well as with their nondisabled allies. "Enabling participation through partnership" underpins every aspect of this thesis and reflects its fundamental principles.