Learning to struggle in grassroots community organizations : the Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents Association.
This study was motivated by my interest in what ordinary people, who have become involved in political, civic, environmental and other community organisations and taken up struggles in their communities, learn through this. I am specifically interested in how they learn through struggle in community-based grassroots organisations; and thus focused my study on Clairwood, where livelihood have been affected by the influx of trucks and environmental and industrial hazards, and people involved in the Clairwood Ratepayers and Residents’ Association (CRRA) who are struggling against this. I thus chose the critical paradigm as the most appropriate paradigm within which to locate my research, since I was interested in struggle and social change. In keeping with a critical paradigm, my study is qualitative in nature and the main data collection method was in-depth interviews, as I thought that it would be the most effective method to enable me to gather rich, qualitative data from my participants. The existing adult education literature on adult learning, especially in the social context, includes adult learning theory that looks at adults: who have significant experience of involvement in struggle: particularly of taking action; have experienced this collectively; and have presumably learned something from this experience. I chose experiential learning theory, and particularly the model of experiential learning theory as developed by Peter Jarvis, as the most useful in helping to understand the learning that takes place within the CRRA.