“Our experience is that in a complex situation of human dynamics and community power AI makes an effective contribution to the development of critical thinking and action. Although the approach to AI described in this paper was not simplistic, it nevertheless offers an accessible and engaging method of bridging the gap between critical theory as advocated by scholars and the difficulties of critical practice on the ground: the gap between “what we must do” and “how to do it” identified by Wiggins (2011), Bushe (2012) and Grant & Humphries (2006). We believe therefore that Appreciative Inquiry may have a widespread application to practitioners working in disadvantaged communities as it is effective in creating generative themes that disrupt self-limiting and “taken for granted” assumptions (van der Haar & Hosking, 2004).
Framing AI in the context of Arendt’s work on Narrative Action focuses the practice on creating authentic connections between individuals, and then trusting the process of co-production and discovery to create power and identity: genuine co-production. In this way AI is released from slavish adherence to a simplistic methodology and responds to the need to develop Critical Appreciative Processes advanced by Grant and Humphries (2006).”
Duncan, G. and Ridley-Duff, R. J. (2014) “Appreciative Inquiry as a method of transforming identity and power in Pakistani women”, Action Research, 12(2): 117-134.
This paper describes a three-year action research project that used Appreciative Inquiry to work with marginalised Pakistani women living in Sheffield. The research encountered many of the difficulties and dilemmas that have been previously identified in the theory and practice of Appreciative Inquiry. However, it also empowered the participants to develop critical thinking, particularly around issues of power and identity. Through generating authentic and untold stories, Appreciative Inquiry enabled participants to discuss, subvert and challenge the identities that had been constructed for them by sources of power within their community and culture. The paper describes the innovative application of Appreciative Inquiry, offers a theoretical response to criticisms of Appreciative Inquiry and suggests how it may be effective in enabling marginalised people to critically address issues of power.