Session: Disrupting Hegemony in Research through Critical Reflexivity: Using Autoethnography to Promote Racial and Economic Justice (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

35 Disrupting Hegemony in Research through Critical Reflexivity: Using Autoethnography to Promote Racial and Economic Justice

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Mint, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Race and Ethnicity (R&E)
Sarah Bussey, MSW, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, Monica Thompson, MSW, The Graduate Center, City University of New York and Austin Oswald, MA, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
The process of autoethnography strives to capture the narrative of an individual, in a first-person account; a true to the word approach. As a research modality, it challenges dominant narratives and places the self as the subject. This critical qualitative paradigm opens up new possibilities for social work researchers who seek to represent themselves and their findings in diverse ways that capture the full complexity of human life and social problems. Furthermore, it has been effective at challenging accepted ways of “knowing” and “being” that historically led to the domination, exploitation, and oppression of individuals and groups. The critical traditions are particularly useful for social work scholars who are interested in using research as a platform to promote social justice and equity among diverse communities. As racial and economic inequality continues to rise in the United States, along with heightened social division and tension, so does the need for critical methods that capture the complex nexus of inequity and solutions for its redress.

This roundtable discussion will provide a detailed overview of autoethnography as a critical methodology to combat racial and economic inequity. The presenters will orient the audience to autoethnography as both a process and product that involves analyzing biographies, affects, relationships, thoughts, and wounds to theorize about society (self within structure). We will discuss core methodological principles and highlight the method's ability to facilitate reflexivity, accountability, and engender social justice.

The presenters will also share an example of a multi-voiced autoethnographic project that served as a creative and liberatory outlet to explore hauntings, theory and self, and the role we play in social work research and practice. We will discuss how this project linked activism with research, provided opportunity for a collective narrative that weaved together diverse experiences and perspectives, explored divergence and commonality in voice, and challenged the tendency of hegemonic positivism to extract affect from the praxis of science.

Within the roundtable, participants will get first hand, experiential exposure to the method through guided activities. This will lead to both activities that embody the autoethnographic process as well as provide space for a shared voice. These experiences will demonstrate authoethnography's utility as a method for racial and economic justice. The presenters hope to illustrate the risk of disassociating the self (as researcher) from the experience of research and study. Critically analyzing the self mitigates the potential violent and oppressive nature of “othering” and “distancing,” and disrupts the potential harm inherent to traditional research approaches.

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