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The critical participant

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The need for critical theories and methods has never been greater. As global citizens, we face enormous inequities and unprecedented challenges such as global warming and rising rates of poverty. Consumption and markets are at the very heart of our most pressing social problems ranging from materialism and pollution to obesity and addiction. Critical theory is often presented as a conceptual tool designed to engage these problems. Traditionally, critical theory consists of two key moments. The first is the negative moment; here the researcher forms a critique of existing social practices and institutions. The second is the positive moment; here the researcher envisions creative alternatives to the status quo. In this article, the authors argue that there is a third moment called critical participation. This third moment encourages the researcher to participate in theoretically inspired social change. The article develops the third moment by discussing the role of the public intellectual, critical practice in teaching, and critical practice in research.

Document Type: Commentary

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1362/026725709X471677

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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