This Publication presents Chapter 1 of Jean Drèze’s book Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone (2017) and is published with permission. This chapter extends an earlier Economic and Political Weekly article on the complementarity of research and action, which challenged the conventional view that involvement in action detracts from objective enquiry. It argues that action-oriented research is not a stand-alone activity, but part of a larger effort to achieve practical change through democratic action. As such, the research needs to be communicated clearly to the public at large. Viewing research and action as complementary rather than antagonistic, also raises the ethical standards for research because the outcomes may have impacts well beyond publication. On a positive note, this may further motivate researchers – being no longer aloof from the conditions of those under study – to ensure these public ethical standards are fulfilled. In practice, to retain space for research, researchers are to avoid funding arrangements that hamper intellectual freedom. Finally, working with communities, researchers often come to realise that expertise is of many kinds, and the pursuit of academic knowledge is a collective endeavour, which is rightly documented by engaged research.
Download the chapter here.