Freirean Pedagogy and the Politics of Social Research
This chapter crafts a vision for social research that provokes critical opposition to the forces driving precaritization by drawing on popular education. Freire suggests that researchers should listen methodically for the “generative themes”—characteristic uses of language—through which oppressed people name their daily struggles. Folding such thematic inquiry into a broader approach called “critical-popular research” opens two complementary trajectories of social critique and political activation. As focal points for local popular-educational dialogues, such themes can spark critical awareness and practical resolve among the poor and excluded. A theme’s generative potential also springs from its resonances with existing critical-theoretical accounts of general social tendencies that affect certain groups especially harshly but also implicate working people at large. In association with a politics of the “demand,” critical-popular research can invite affective, reflective, and practical responses that combine militancy with receptivity and challenge precarity on multiple levels.
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