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A Dialogical Approach to Understand Perspectives of an Aboriginal Wellbeing Program: An Extension of Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action

Lisa Urquhart, Leanne Brown, Kerith Duncanson, Karen Roberts, Karin Fisher

2020 Australia

This article will aim to demonstrate how we applied a collaborative dialogical research approach to understand perspectives of an Aboriginal wellbeing program by extending Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action to respect Australian Aboriginal ways of knowing, being and doing. This process aims to disrupt the colonizing discourse by bridging the disconnect between Indigenous decolonizing methods and Western knowledges, toward a dialogical, respectful, appropriate and reciprocally beneficial research project. We discuss how layers of reflexivity (self, interpersonal and collective) have a role in communicative relationality (trust and shared decision making). We propose cross-cultural communicative relationality is strengthened by three key researcher actions; inner listening, relational actions beyond discourse and collective knowledge, along with Habermas criteria for discerning the motivations of action (communicative vs strategic). This article provides researchers from a variety of disciplines a way to respectively research in the critical paradigm while considering Aboriginal ways toward building a relationship that is mutually beneficial.

Aboriginal people, Australia, critical methods, research, cross-cultural, reflexivity