But are we indeed confident that we know what research is, or what is named thus? Are there other terms that might be mobilised here, which might better serve us in our various undertakings in this regard?Especially vulnerable at this time is so-called qualitative research, or research that (self-)identifies as Other with regard to mainstream, normative educational science.
This has been described, evocatively, as the practice turn in contemporary theory (Schatzki, Knorr Cetina & Savigny [Eds.], 2001), and it is best understood as a broad family of theoretical and philosophical work for which the notion of practice has become something of an organising principle – practice as .
I come at this topic from a particular perspective, albeit congruent with my own interests and passions, and my long-time, deep and enduring fascination with poststructuralism, or more generally Continental theory and philosophy, about which I sometimes despair of knowing anything, in any significant sense. This is something of marked importance in the contemporary moment, in which there is a renewed struggle over the nature and role of research – educational research in particular – in terms of policy and government.
Once the importance of habits is acknowledged, sustainability research and policy need to be rethought to investigate societal processes, such as the ones currently at work in transition towns, which have the potential to promote both wellbeing and the environment.
In doing so, I draw on what has been called practice theory and philosophy, a body of work that I have been interested in for some time now.
Such work risks even further marginalisation, of course.Research is what happens in universities (although by no means exclusively so), and takes its place alongside teaching and administration, and various forms of ‘service’.