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Academic activism, radical ethnography and the critical scholar

Reedy, Patrick; King, Daniel


Patrick Reedy

Daniel King


It has been proposed that engagement with activism might make critical organizational scholarship more relevant to practitioners. However, there are few examples of such engagement and thus a lack of systematic inquiry into how it might be undertaken. This paper seeks to redress this lack. We evaluate the potential of ethnography as a radical methodological framework for critical scholarship, drawing on organizational ethnography, urban anthropology and participative action research to construct a theoretical framework which we use to analyse four ethnographic vignettes based on our own experiences of engagement with activists. Our contribution is to 1) assess barriers to engagement, 2) explore identity conflicts between activist and researcher roles, 3) examine the ethical dilemmas of researching those we closely identify with and, 4) suggest ways in which to balance research and activism in order to benefit both. We conclude that, despite the difficulties, there is much to be gained by this form of critical performativity.


Reedy, P., & King, D. (2017). Academic activism, radical ethnography and the critical scholar. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2017(1), 13499.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Nov 30, 2017
Publication Date 2017-08
Deposit Date May 15, 2019
Journal Academy of Management Proceedings
Print ISSN 0065-0668
Electronic ISSN 2151-6561
Publisher Academy of Management
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2017
Issue 1
Pages 13499
Public URL
Publisher URL