Session: Engaging Place in a Changing World: Opportunities and Challenges for Social Welfare Research, Practice, and Policy (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

78 Engaging Place in a Changing World: Opportunities and Challenges for Social Welfare Research, Practice, and Policy

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 5:15 PM-6:15 PM
Cluster: Sustainable Development, Urbanization, and Environmental Justice
G. Allen Ratliff, MSW, University of California, Berkeley, Bree Akesson, PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University, Genevieve Graaf, PhD, University of Texas at Arlington, Susan Kemp, PhD, and Cindy Sousa, PhD, MSW, MPH, Bryn Mawr College
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the centrality of place in human lives, particularly in relation to marginalized communities. Restrictions on movement, increased surveillance, disparities in access to basic resources, and financial hardship profoundly heighten place-based inequities, and fast-paced decisions in the delivery of social services are moving resources away from the everyday places of people's lives, with potentially far-reaching ramifications. Meanwhile, the ongoing threats to people and their places posed by climate change, environmental injustice, political upheavals, and displacement have not abated. With an enduring investment in people-place relationships and in place-based services, it is imperative that social work researchers focus actively on place, and specifically the complex social-ecological impacts of current and future socio-spatial turbulence in the lives and places of vulnerable populations. Social work has a growing portfolio of place-focused research, yet much of this work still lies at the margins. This roundtable will present multilevel perspectives on the theoretical and methodological opportunities for centering place in social welfare research. Roundtable discussants will highlight place-based features of their work as a basis for actively engaging with participants to discuss ways in which social work scholars can more intentionally and creatively engage place in their research. Akesson will draw from research with refugee families to describe how war and displacement intersects with place, highlighting the relationship between displacement and restricted mobility, especially for families who are restricted to their homes due to violence, and exploring the psychosocial impact of such restricted mobility on everyday family life. Graaf will discuss approaches to examining place-based attributes of Medicaid and other mental health policies in the context of their relationship to accessibility and delivery of home- and community-based mental health care for young people with complex behavioral healthcare needs. Ratliff will describe place-based features of violence and resources for young people experiencing homelessness, articulating the geospatial dynamics of resources in unsafe places while interacting with structural violence that restricts mobility for young people in meeting their basic needs without homes or safe places. Sousa will present findings on operations of power and place in the relationships among family, structural, and political violence across multiple spatial scales and how place-based risks and strategies of survival are implicated in individual and collective well-being. Kemp will consider these perspectives and her work to situate place in the context of settler colonialism and engage participants in considering key questions confronting social welfare researchers interested in bringing place into their work, illuminating the power dynamics that construct place-based disparities and shape research agendas. The places of safety and resources in the lives of the vulnerable and marginalized people have been brought into stark relief by the emergence of COVID-19. This is an essential time for social welfare scholars to better understand theories and methodologies that examine the role of place in the operations of social work and the people we serve. In pursuing place-based research, social welfare scholars can better inform policies and programs toward social justice, security, and wellbeing.
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