From aseptic distance to passionate engagement: reflections about the place and value of participatory inquiry


  • Marlei Pozzebon Fundação Getulio Vargas; Escola de Administração do Estado de São Paulo



In 2004, I published a book chapter that marked a first moment in my qualitative research journey. The methodological piece was a result of a challenge imposed by my doctoral committee for my thesis proposal defense two years prior, who invited me to ‘rigorously’ sustain the quality of a qualitative research project conducted under the premises of critical-interpretivism. This challenge indeed was a gift, as it provided me an opportunity, very early in my academic career, to deeply reflect about the meaning of doing qualitative research. Now, around fifteen years later, the invitation to write a thinkbox again represents a timely opportunity, as I found myself again reflecting … not on the dilemmas of doing non-mainstream qualitative research, but on the researcher's role itself. More precisely, I am seriously thinking about the role of distance and engagement to the value of the knowledge we produce with our academic work. In this essay, I redraw this entire journey—from 2004 to 2018—with the intent to nourish the dialog with my peers about the engagement of the academic community with transforming society for the better, and to provide some guidelines to doctoral students seeking to truly engage with transformational research.


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