Community action research in sociology
In elementary courses like “Introduction to Sociology” and “Social Research Method,” instructors are often asked, ‘What are the uses of the discipline for our society? What can I do as a sociology student to help change the world?’ This query reflects our students’ deep-seated urge to utilize sociological knowledge in coming to terms with various public issues, in particular the problems and challenges facing different social groups and local communities.
Community Action Research (CAR) aims to reclaim the public relevance of sociology teaching and learning. In contrast to traditional learning, CAR is built upon the idea of a ‘learning community,’ which encompasses teaching, research and practical activities all at once. In designing and implementing CAR projects, students can have the opportunity to articulate sociological perspectives with the peculiar needs of select groups and communities. In the process, students learn to initiate informed dialogue with the stakeholders, establish working partnerships with intermediary organizations such as NGOs, and disseminate research findings via various platforms. In this way, CAR can overcome the limitations of classroom learning by engaging sociology and social science students in the real, evolving social world.