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2008 | 13 | 2 | 141-156
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Lewinian Lessons for Action Researches: Traveling the Second Path

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I explain how the early American Lewinians (1939-1947) took one of two overlapping intellectual paths. Those, on the first path, were theory-centred, hypothesis- testing experimental social psychologists. Those, on the second path, used action research in fostering planned change to build healthy communities. I summarize the profound lessons for action research taught by the second group. Adhering to Lewin’s maxim, “No action without research, no research without action”, second path Lewinians designed interventions to alter concrete group structures, leadership patterns, and cultural norms with the aim of solving actual social problems. They understood planed change to be an integration research, training, and action; and they taught that the management of actual change would depend on: data-based diagnosis, social-skill training, and action plans with measurable outcomes in specific social situations. I elaborate on: (1) the research methods they developed and used; (2) their belief in cooperative teamwork and democratic relations; (3) the bridges they build to link social psychologist, and educators, and community-action leaders; (4) the regional and local social systems they created to carry out action research; (5) the restraining forces they faced inside university academy and the communities in which they worked; the action research steps and cycles they designed; and (6) the complex three-step design they used for training local action researchers. I finish by applying the Lewinian lessons from their Connecticut training in community relations of 60 years ago to contemporary Poland. I describe some suggestions for the Kurt Lewin Center for Psychological Research in Bydgoszcz about action research in Poland today.
Physical description
  • Lewin, K. (1939). Experiments in Social Space. Harvard Educational Review, IX, 21-32.
  • Lewin, K. (1946). Action Research and Minority Problems. Journal of Social Issues, II , 34-46.
  • Lewin, K. (1948). Resolving social conflicts. New York: Harpers.
  • Lippitt, R. (1949). Training in community relations: Toward new group skills. New York: Harpers.
  • Lippitt, R., Watson, J. E., Westley B. (1958). The dynamics of planned change. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  • Marrow, A. J. (1969). The practical theorist: Life and work of Kurt Lewin. New York: Basic.
  • Schmuck, R. A. (2006). Practical action research for change. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
  • Watson, G. (1947). Action for unity. New York: Harper.
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