10: Dilemmas and Issues Confronting Socially Engaged Research within Universities

This chapter describes the work of the Land and Accountability Research Centre as an activist research centre at the University of Cape Town. It focuses on the co-creation of knowledge with rural community partners, suggesting that such co-creation transcends the concepts of ‘public sociology’ and ‘critical engagement’. It posits that current university criteria to measure research outputs fail to recognize the societal value of such forms of knowledge, focusing instead on specific individual outputs which discourage young researchers from investing in the rich but time-consuming process of building community partnerships that respond to community-identified research priorities. These entrenched criteria risk undermining innovative forms of research excellence that address pressing societal problems identified by the people directly affected.

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