Session: Advancing Justice or Tokenism? a Critical Discussion of the Past and Future of Participatory Approaches to Research in Social Work (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

170 Advancing Justice or Tokenism? a Critical Discussion of the Past and Future of Participatory Approaches to Research in Social Work

Friday, January 17, 2020: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Supreme Court, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Melanie Sonsteng-Person, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles, Katie Richards-Schuster, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Samantha Teixeira, PhD, Boston College, Dominique Mikell, MA, University of California, Los Angeles and Amy Ritterbusch, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Participants in the Participatory Action Research (PAR) special interest group at SSWR have organized this roundtable to discuss how faculty and doctoral students are critically analyzing the use of exploitative methodologies in social work research, think through the qualifications of scientific rigor, and describe why PAR approaches are necessary to link research to social justice. We will discuss critical questions about the implications of social work research and how PAR can advance environmental, social, and healing justice in over researched communities, defined here as local communities that are overly burdened with research participation without adequate reward. Additionally, it will define theories, methods, and measurement techniques used in PAR and Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) inquiry. Historically, knowledge production through research has only been seen as legitimate if it derives from professional and research-based institutions, not with individuals and communities most affected by inequities. However, through PAR research becomes a social action process that removes barriers, transforms power relations and improves rigor and relevance through insider expertise. As social work research continues to advance, it becomes necessary to critically examine the role of research in reducing inequality and advancing social justice. This roundtable will tackle such questions with a critical lens based on the researchers' years of experience in PAR and YPAR. Does the community see social work research as advancing their own wants and needs? How can social work researchers work with the community to ensure that community voices inform the policies and practices within their own communities? What is the role of the social work researcher in over researched communities? The roundtable discussion will be rooted in three themes: community researchers as experts, theoretical and methodological considerations of PAR and YPAR, and the role of research in advancing (or hindering) social justice policy and practice. Drawing on more than 20 years of collective experience in participatory research, including youth engaged research, around neighborhood change, human rights violations, program evaluation, public policy, and school justice we will critically appraise our own work and the field of PAR and YPAR using a social work lens. First, faculty will describe their unique expertise and experiences of PAR and YPAR with various groups, theories, and methodologies. They will then discuss how they identify and measure outcomes. Next, doctoral students will discuss challenges specific to proposing and undertaking dissertations using YPAR. We will then engage roundtable participants in critical discussion around the current state of social work research and if and how PAR should be used to advance policy and practice. We will present the challenges we have faced from our own experiences and critically appraise our own work. Participants will discuss how PAR approaches can potentially reduce economic and racial inequality, how to build and sustain impactful relationships with communities, and how outcomes of PAR are determined and measured. By sharing examples and asking key questions for social work research, we hope to generate an impactful discussion about the current use of methods and outcomes with over researched communities.
See more of: Roundtables