Self Determined Participatory Action of Marginalized Groups: The streets of São Paulo


KEYWORDS non-authoritative, non-hierarchic , genuine participation, open access, prag-matic, emancipatory, demands

Personal motivations and demands on [my] research actions hold a pivotal role, by now expressed as a flavour of relevance different from the notion of academic relevance, that I will draw on in more detail later on (p.42) .

My motivations and demands are of subjective nature. Subjectivity has already been briefly mentioned while introducing (p.12) this chapter and is a topic worth mentioning [briefly] again in order to make the demands on my research transparent. Later on, when I argue for Action Research (p.27) as the thesis’research framework, further notions of subjectivity and specific standpoints will be considered from the perspective of knowledge production.

To begin with, I would like to reveal my subjective position in this research. In a sense I am a subjective observer and, as shown later on, to a certain extend an observed subject as well, due to the fact that I did not just passively observe my surroundings but also actively participated in it. For me it is important to reveal those facts in order to uncover the steps that are necessary to tie a red line through this thesis.

As every investigating subject is different, her social position, and her political values, should be explicitly clarified so to put a light on the question of subjectivity. Nonetheless this confession, necessary on one side, is not by itself sufficient to control the effects of the investigation, neither it is to clarify completely the author’s socio-political distortion. The way to Knowledge in pre-cise science is usually filtered by a measuring tool, while in social sciences it is filter by a subjective observer. On one side it is proper to describe the measuring tool, on the other it is correct to reveal subjective positions. But none of these epistemological path will get to the understand of pure Reality. (Cattaneo, 2006, p.20 )

Some of my subjective positions and impressions have already been formulated in those previous notes about my São Paulo experience (p.14) . These notes represent a first reflection about this thesis and its research action(s) and can be bundled to formulate a basic self-conception as…

…an attempt for genuine participation and acceptance of differences,

thus, an attempt for realizing research action(s) in a non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical manner.

… an attempt to shape a complementary component of the people’s struggles on the streets.

…an attempt to find a non-elitist but common language, where academic and non-academic spaces may converge.

…an attempt to shape a space for exchange and raising of awareness about the people’s struggles.

…an attempt to reflect on my personal practice and to contest constraints and existing contradictions between different spheres of reality.

thus, an attempt to dissolve the separation of academic, political, social and private space.

… an attempt to avoid to represent or speak for anybody. I would like to be together with the people and experience myself what they are experiencing.

thus, I am aware of my twofold role and its contradictions as scholar and activist and my alignment with the latter.

…an attempt to adapt the frame this thesis is embedded in on institutional level according to the principles I formulate here.

Figure 7.2 An attempt to determine personal motivation and demands: Part I

I conceive my thesis and its research actions as inherently political. Political due to the fact that I consider it as a medium that supports and to a certain extend reproduces the struggle of the people I collaborated with. Political as well because I understand my research actions as the intention to act in a non-hierarchical and emancipatory manner (even though I can not achieve this to full extend). I under-stand non-hierarchical and emancipatory praxis as a critique of the status quo of current social praxis.

In my utopia, emancipation and genuine participation could create spaces in the city, in society, that would not function according to the excluding logic of present spaces that are representing and [re]producing social discrimination. Actions performed in present spaces could have the potential to either transform them or create new spaces where discrimination and its roots are not existing any more or are at least contested and progressively dismantled.

Therefore I conceive space as political. It is political because the space the city represents [here, the space of the the street population in São Paulo], is the space of resistance and struggle for social transformation, the space where a multitude of realities unfold, the space where my personal practice unfolds,  as well as this thesis’research actions.

My idea of this thesis as complementary component of existing struggles on the streets in in São Paulo does not mean that I expect concrete [social] change as its direct result and outcome. For me, provoking social transformation goes far beyond the scope of this work, far beyond the scope of the frame it is embedded in and constraint by. However, I think that every step towards an emancipatory and self-determined transformation of society is worthwhile to undertake. Therefore I hope this thesis could contribute to undertake further steps into that direction and at least functions as a strident mean of communication and information distribution, supporting that purpose.

In order to be strident (23) and probably provoke ideas, reactions or critiques, this thesis and its content have to be made freely accessible. I also believe that open access to information is desirable in general because this thesis’ content is drawnon other people’s knowledge, that shared it with me or inspired me to reflect on what I know. Therefore I cannot and do not want to restrict what others shared freely. Open access enforces the political aspect of my research because it undermines current intellectual property rights [IPR]. IPR denies and prevents the access to knowledge and represents a continuing economic utilization of a commodity called ‚knowledge‘. I think that knowledge restricted by IPR cannot benefit society because society possesses no means to access and utilize it.

A [political] self-conception of my thesis and its intended research action(s) is desirable for me and could probably permit my research action(s) to contribute, even just to a very small extent, to an emancipatory social transformation. In that case I personally would consider my research as relevant . Therefore I would like to denote my additional positions in order to complete my demands on my thesis as …

… relevant to consider my research action(s) as political.

… relevant to consider my research as small building block towards a social transformation, as strident channel to distribute information.

.. an attempt to make the information this thesis provides freely accessible and usable and not just locked-in the academic space.

thus, I prefer open access to all information, narratives and thoughts this thesis is composed of.

… an attempt to render present but invisible or masked out realities visible, but not as academic invention of new facts and figures.

thus, I prefer to evoke a reaction and not just a sole analytical and systematically sound reproduction of [a] ‚reality‘.

… an attempt to decouple the question of relevance of research action(s) from the [western] scientific norm of being innovative, objective and systematic, hence examine situations solely on an atomic level and by that mask out the context those situations have been embedded in,

thus, I prefer to work qualitative and event driven instead of systematic and quantitative, in order to make as many of contingent experiences as possible


Figure 7.3 An attempt to determine personal motivation and demands: Part II

The hereby presented [subjective] motivations and demands compose the basic layer this thesis is build upon. The very first demand of non-authoritarian and non-hierarchical praxis in a sense pervades all other positions and proposals. Therefore I would like to draw attention on this demand in order to clarify its fundamental importance for me.


(23) here in the sense of the German meaning ‚plakativ‘


notes//são paulo//city//extremes <<  list//motivations//demands >> non (autoritarian//hierarchical)//attitude

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