Saturday, January 19, 2019: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
Golden Gate 2, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Laina Bay-Cheng, PhD, University at Buffalo,
Amy Baker, PhD, University of Pennsylvania,
Daria Mueller, MSW, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,
Michael Reisch, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore and
Sheila P. Vakharia, MSW, Drug Policy Alliance
A primary aim of early social work research was to provide empirical evidence of social and material inequalities with the goal of provoking needed change in public opinion, policy, and practice. Despite this original allegiance with activism, social work researchers often experience tension between their commitments to scientific methods and to social change. Ironically, biased notions of objectivity dominate perceptions of empirical rigor and validity. As a result, research operating under a values-neutral pretense is often deemed more credible than explicitly values-driven research. This roundtable will bring together featured participants and audience members to consider the relation between research and activism and its particular ramifications for social work research. Central questions up for discussion will include:
· What is the appropriate (i.e., ethically, socially, intellectually) balance between empiricism and activism?
· How should social work rebut claims that activist or values-driven research is less (or not at all) scientific?
· How are sociopolitical and economic conditions (e.g., denials of fact, corporatization of universities, threats to unions and tenure) affecting social work research and its role in social change efforts?
· How can established social work scholars enable early career researchers’ empirical contributions to social justice?