Shameful interest in educational research

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This article considers ontological conceptualizations of shame-interest as experienced in educational research. Shame has frequently been reported in research as a property of the autonomous individual: the shame of the participant to share with the researcher, and the shame of the researcher to reflexively eliminate. Shame-interest is re-theorized here as a generative research event, as intra-action, as one simultaneous movement in the ongoing present. We attempt an ethical shift from a reflexive stance to fluxing movements of response-ability and co-consequence in order to encourage socially responsive educational research, informed through the conceptual resources of psychologist Silvan Tomkins, and feminist philosopher and physicist Karen Barad. Theory is threaded through a series of personal research vignettes to illustrate our thinking through ways shame-interest materialized within research events. Shame is re/conceptualized as a contestable composite feeling entangled with interest that allows an alternate non-reductive and ethical approach to educational research. We amplify our researcher responsibility, and our shame, by placing ourselves as entangled with the research ‘problem’ under investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-432
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies in Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Affect
  • interest
  • karen barad
  • research ethics
  • response-ability
  • shame

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