Towards the Recognition and Integration of Action Research and Deliberative Democracy


Because of the shared underlying value systems of action research (AR) and deliberative democracy (DD), the former can be a powerful means for engaging the academy in the latter. AR and DD are both grounded in principles of inclusion, equity, the co-generation of knowledge, and action. In making the case for the integration of AR and DD, we describe their commonalities and place AR in the context of other forms of engaged scholarship. We review outreach scholarship, community-based research and other forms of participatory research, examining each in terms of their alignment with deliberative democratic principles and their potential for furthering deliberative democracy generally. Engaging the academy in research on and for deliberative democracy requires the full recognition of AR and other forms of engaged scholarship. However, Ernest Boyer’s call for the academy to recognize the scholarship of engagement as scholarship worthy of tenure and promotion has been heeded unevenly across and within higher education institutions. Yet, embedding action research firmly in the academy is critical to engaging faculty in research that not only furthers our understanding of deliberative democracy, but engages higher education in the work of pushing democracy forward.


deliberation, action research, deliberative democracy, higher education

How to Cite

Cunningham K. & McKinney H., (2010) “Towards the Recognition and Integration of Action Research and Deliberative Democracy”, Journal of Public Deliberation 6(1). doi:







Kiran Cunningham (Kalamazoo College)
Hannah McKinney (Kalamazoo College)



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0


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This article has been peer reviewed.

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