In the past three decades, we have been witnessing a development in social studies which has been described by STS scholars as the ?participatory turn.? This refers to a move toward various types of interventionist and action-oriented research. This turn to participation and action emerged as a response to growing concerns with making STS ?useful? and politically relevant. The fundamental characteristic of interventionist and action-oriented research, is that the researcher is deliberately and explicitly engaged in a process of change through collaboration with a community partner. However, fostering such close collaboration comes at the cost of greater dependency on the community partner and it brings about various methodological complexities related to the research practice. This includes, for instance, dealing with conflicting agendas and interest, juggling multiple roles, managing high and evolving expectations, etc.In this paper, I draw upon a three and a half year long interventionist research project about the implementation of electronic medical records, conducted in close collaboration with the community partner, a non-profit clinic in Canada. Following a self-reflexive and critical epistemological stance, I trace the trajectory of the research collaboration and the different roles and positions I occupied or acquired in a diversity of contexts and settings. To better understand the complex nature of collaboration found within interventionist research projects, I draw upon insights from Actor-Network Theory. I propose conceptualizing interventionist research as a network of heterogeneous actors with different attachments that are established and continuously reconfigured during the course of the research. Accordingly, people, interventions, roles, authorities, commitments, access, etc., are interconnected elements that form a network which functions as the apparently coherent whole which designates the research project. Applying a network model allows us to focus on the collective production?the conditions?through which actors, roles and interventions come to exist. Thus, interventions and roles can be seen as network effects?they are produced, supported and enacted by the network. Hence, the capacity of the interventionist researcher to act in a particular role is neither located within the researcher nor the research project, but in particular socio-material arrangements. Accordingly, roles and interventions are no longer simply fluid and flexible as has been claimed by STS researchers; rather, these are products which are assemblages of past and present connections. I illustrate how the creation and redefinition of existing roles is shaped by past roles and interventions from previous settings. I investigate how the different attachments existing in the network at different points in time produce and enable the ordering and configuration of particular subjects with capacities to enact different roles and interventions in a diversity of contexts and settings. I illustrate what happens when these attachments are missing and how this influences the researcher?s agency, her ability to act/perform in a particular role. This paper responds to the need for a renewed conceptualization of interventionist research; a need which is more pressing in the current research climate where funds increasingly are going to such types of research.
|Publication status||Published - 2010|