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Geographies of impact: power, participation and potential

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In this paper we offer a critique and an alternative to current proposals to include the economic and social impacts of research in the next UK audit of academic research. In contrast to most responses from UK academics, our argument is for impact; while the growing marketisation of knowledge is to be deplored, resources and activities within universities do have a vital role to play in progressive social change. The problem is that the current proposals will produce and retrench an elite model of power/knowledge relationships. We propose an understanding of impact based on the co-production of knowledge between universities and communities, modelled in research practice in participatory geographies. This is more likely to result in more equitable and radically transformative impacts of knowledge, making us socially accountable rather than driven by economic accountancy.

Keywords: UK; audit; impact; knowledge; participatory geographies; power

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, Email: 2: School of Geography and Geosciences, University of St Andrews, St Andrews KY16 9AL 3: Division of Geography, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8ST

Publication date: 2011-06-01

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