Using qualitative tools as interventionist research strategies for emancipation
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As much as South African struggles for freedom and transformation can be termed emancipatory, not all attempts to research and record them can be similarly described. This article documents the research methods employed in a qualitative study that followed 80, mostly Black students, over 5 years in order to document the struggles to succeed faced by students in South Africa. The study ultimately interrogated the centrality of race in the quest for education and emancipation with a view toward understanding what drives self-determination and success in universities. A central intention of the study was for it to be research as intervention through the use of conscious research methods that would contribute to developing agency and action among students. Each of the participatory methods chosen, it was hoped, would contribute toward helping students develop wider networks and self-reflectivity in a quest for success in university. The five interactive methods used included an annual in-depth participant interview, social network interviews with an array of peers and stakeholder, a Facebook weblog to which participations made written and photographic submissions, a written reflection at the end of the fifth year, and an autoethnographic documentary in which participation was optional. Each of these activities was designed to have outcomes which can be described to varying extents as participatory and/or emancipatory.