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IDAC Document #9

IDAC Document #9

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: pagina.de.stanga on Jul 05, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Militant Observer
(IDAC Document No. 9)
Scientific Research and Political PowerThe purpose of the present IDAC document is to present systematically the methodology of the militant observer. This isthe methodology which serves us as a tool in our action / research. Before even getting to the core of the subject,however, and analyzing in what this tool consists, it would be well to clarify just exactly what we mean when we use theword "research".
For many people the word "research" is associated with voluminous and abstract scientific work, which is presented,most often, in esoteric language by specialists who deal with specific and narrow subjects. These long-term researchprojects usually are carried on under the aegis of the university where they often represent nothing more than thefulfillment of academic rules and regulations for the receiving of honors and degrees. And, even in spite of all the"knowledge" which these works supposedly represent, it is not infrequent that, having been solemnly presented, they thengo quietly to their rest in the drawers or on the shelves of university libraries.In more recent times, however, aside from this "useless" research, we find another type of research taking place andhaving a much more precise, specific, and utilitarian goal. Numerous different institutions and foundations--all the wayfrom governmental agencies to the multinational corporations--are setting up sophisticated research projects in order tobetter understand the so-called "unfortunate" or "under-privileged" social groups.So it is that in the Third World we find experts of development programs busy at work studying the Indiana, the peasants,tribal populations, or slum-dwellers. In North America specialists from all branches of the social sciences analyze thebehavior patterns of ethnic minorities. And in Western Europe it seems that the favorite subjects for study are the migrantworkers, the rebellious youth, or the regional movements striving for cultural and political autonomy.The themes vary, but the same patterns are repeated almost everywhere. The oppressed are identified, measured,dissecting, and programmed from the outside by the oppressors the oppressor's representatives.The oppressors, with the help of their sciences, determine the goals of the research and the methodology, which is to be
 Analysis of the power structures by way of, for example, the unmasking of mechanisms of exploitation and dependencewhich "international aid" imposes on the Third World, (Document No. 2), the study of the institutions of social controlwhich insure the ideological consensus in the highly industrialized societies, (Document No. 5/6), or a critique of theeducational system, (Document No. 8).Theoretical reflection based on an involvement with a given social group as, for example, the analysis of the women'smovement, (Document No. J), or the process of political education carried on among, the Aymara people of Peru,(Document No. 4).And it is in this latter category, that of research done on the basis of a direct involvement, that we are aided by themethodology of the militant observer.
We propose, therefore, in the following pages, to explain this methodology, to examine the conditions for its applicationand the scientific foundation on which it rests, and to look at its concepts of society, social science, and the role of theresearcher.In order to examine this methodology, we must begin a reflection which will seen, at times, very theoretical aid veryabstract. But this requires an effort, which must not and cannot be avoided. In order that the social science cease to be themonopoly of the so-called experts and specialists, oppressed groups must learn to appropriate for them- selves the"scientific knowledge" and use it as a tool in the process of struggle against manipulation and oppression.
Science, What For?
Six years ago the first American set foot on the moon. Pictures of the moment, published everywhere in the beautifulcolors of Life magazine, excited humanity. Even the jobless peasant of the Rio de Janeiro slums shared in this euphoriaand participated in the pride. That peasant, also, had seen the pictures on television or in the journals and suddenlyexperienced solidarity with “the human scientific spirit”.
The conquest of cosmic space promised a glorious future in which science could control and foresee everything, wherethe specialists of wisdom would become the only authorized masters. Deep inside everyone--or, at least in a great

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