Session: Queer Experiences with Participatory Action Research: Early Career Scholars’ Reflections on the Intersection of Identity and Methodology (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

270 Queer Experiences with Participatory Action Research: Early Career Scholars’ Reflections on the Intersection of Identity and Methodology

Friday, January 22, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Darren Cosgrove, PhD, Miami University of Ohio, Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA, State University of New York at Albany, Candace Christensen, PhD, University of Texas at San Antonio, Jonah DeChants, PhD, Colorado State University and Sid Jordan, JD, University of California, Los Angeles
For researchers and community members whose sexual orientations and gender identities have been marginalized, the emancipatory methodologies of participatory action research (PAR) and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) are often used to answer complex questions while engaging in processes that facilitate individual and community empowerment. Researchers utilizing these approaches partner with communities to engage in collaborative inquiry to build knowledge for social action, which contrasts conventional research methods that are limited to social analysis. PAR and CBPR (hereafter PAR) and social work both share a commitment to social justice as well as individual, group and community self-determination.

This roundtable is structured by findings from a phenomenological study of social work doctoral students and pre-tenured faculty. Through semi-structured interviews and group-based data collection, scholars shared their experiences pursuing PAR. Many participants identified as transgender, non-binary and/or queer. Participants discussed how their experiences related to gender and sexuality motivated them to pursue PAR and impacted their ability to pursue such methodologies within their institutions.

Panelists will reflect on their personal experiences as LGBTQ scholars pursuing PAR and how they converge and diverge with study findings. Discussion includes:

Identity Motivates PAR: Those pursuing PAR often do so because of their own personal experiences of SOGI marginalization and social justice work. Upon entering academic institutions , scholars remain committed to centering community voices and making them integral to their scholarly agenda. Panelists will share their motivations and lessons learned from experiences as queer and trans researchers and how this stimulates methodological interests.

Academic Institutions Support and Challenge LGBTQ and PAR Scholars: Despite personal commitments, some LGBTQ scholars find academic cultures challenging because they privilege gender- and hetero-normativity. Panelists will share about attempts to queer research despite the possibility of further marginalization and approaches to address institutional challenges.

Productivity Measures and Perceptions of PAR: Productivity assessed by traditional measures, such as publication counts, can put researchers doing PAR at a disadvantage given the time needed to build relationships and carry out PAR. Time investments are necessary to ethically engage in work with trans and queer communities who frequently experience exploitation and knowledge extraction. Additionally, these methods are viewed as less "valid" than other forms of research, creating barriers to securing academic positions and funding. Panelists will offer recommendations for establishing more inclusive academic institutional environments.

The barriers encountered by the participants and session's panelists, highlight the intersection between identity and methodology-based marginalization. Findings encourage critical reflection about research practices aimed at reducing the marginalization of LGBTQ people and communities. This work emphasizes ways in which the devaluation of community-engaged research perpetuates the marginalization of emancipatory research traditions informed in part by social movements for gender and sexual liberation. Thus, this roundtable will: (1) provide findings from the study that were specific to LGBTQ scholars; (2) offer panelists' reflections on the convergence and divergence of the findings from their personal experiences; and (3) engage in discussion focused on how to advance a research ethic that prioritizes LGBTQ community knowledge production and supports LGBTQ scholars in this pursuit.

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