The Interplay of Developmental and Dialogical Epistemologies


  • Ritva Engeström



The paper examines Developmental Work Research (DWR) –based interventions from the
perspective of qualitative research. The motive comes from two directions. First, the DWR has
turned the scientific focus quite early toward trans- and interdisciplinary collaboration and
methodology. However, the approach has been recognized more through its intervention theory
and practice, and less as a particular research design, which can contribute to qualitative
research strategy. Second, there is a trend towards one-dimensional evidence-based approach,
which foregrounds standards of methods in the context of new public management of science.
The paper views developmental interventions as representing an alternative way of research with
the practice-inspired methodology offering practice-based source of evidence. To examine more
this alternative the paper deals with the question how developmental interventions can be
considered research designs that make context and dialogue the basis of research. Considering
the DWR methodology, the paper argues that although dialogue is central in actualizing an
intervention, dialogical epistemology has remained as underdeveloped in the approach. The
paper focuses on dialogicality and sense making in developmental interventions examining the
processes of anchoring and objectification, object in relation to personal sense, and how the
individual and collective processes are linked and coexist in the complex relationship between
pragmatic activity and social processes. As illustrations of ideas, pieces of data from conducted
developmental interventions are used.




How to Cite

Engeström, R. (2014). The Interplay of Developmental and Dialogical Epistemologies. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, 15(2), 119–138.