Session: Beyond Inclusion: Knowledge Justice and Social Work Science (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

39 Beyond Inclusion: Knowledge Justice and Social Work Science

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Golden Gate 1, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Tina Sacks, PhD, University of California, Berkeley, Gina Samuels, PhD, University of Chicago, Susan Stone, PhD, University of California, Berkeley and G. Allen Ratliff, MSW, University of California, Berkeley
There is consensus that little progress will be made towards the Grand Challenges (GCs) unless they are accompanied by vigorous and rigorous field-level efforts to build capacity to both understand and value the full range of knowledges and knowledge-building methodologies necessary to interrupt, prevent, and intervene in the pressing social concerns that have been selected for sustained focus. Despite this, routine stances and practices within and across social work institutions of higher education raise concern that the field may be quite far from realizing these desirable capacities: that is, doctoral students and faculty alike are induced to produce programs of research that conform to narrowly defined epistemic and methodological ranges. This roundtable session seeks to build on the unprecedented opportunity the GCs offer to catalyze field-level reflections on social work knowledges and knowledge generation strategies. The presenters, whose career experiences span from doctoral to later career scholars, bring expertise across differing epistemic, theoretical, and methodological approaches. Their differing vantage points offer multiple illuminations of hidden and explicit systems and structures that inhibit social work from achieving grand and socially just solutions. One presenter will briefly review both social work and other applied social science literatures to map stances and approaches conducive to an expansive and embracing orientation towards knowledges and methodologies. These include (a) valuation and utilization of complexity across theories and methods, (b) use of "problematization" as a strategy to build theory, (c) capacity to grapple with multiplicity (including interdisciplinarity, attention to overlaps across theoretical traditions, and methodological pluralism), (d) requisite skills to cull and equitably privilege knowledge from networks of academic and non-academic actors, and (e) ability to assess social work change strategies across their technical, normative, and political dimensions. Another presenter will articulate the ways in which epistemic injustice manifests in academia and is enacted professionally and interpersonally within social work journals, through ambivalent engagement of less dominant knowledge systems, in narrow training of doctoral students, and within social work systems of meaning. This presenter will both critically challenge the idea of "inclusion" as a method of dealing with methodological difference in an assumed context of neutrality and will argue for knowledge justice that depends upon interrupting and decentering the epistemic power and privilege that culturally anchors and limits our current understandings of science and knowledge. The third and fourth presenters will detail their experiences in launching programs of research in areas of (a) health disparities and (b) gendered violence. Both programs of research problematize extant epistemic, theoretical, and methodological approaches. Presenters will describe barriers they faced in launching as well as the contributory impact of their work.

The ultimate goal is to stimulate conversation that will highlight dimensions of current approaches to education and scholarship that risk reifying epistemic injustices and knowledge inequalities in our field as well as highlight approaches that resist these tendencies. Additionally, this roundtable seeks to build a network of scholars who aspire to understand and value the full range of knowledges and knowledge-building methodologies necessary for forward-looking social work scholarship.

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