Session: Participatory Action Research As Praxis of Resistance (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

91 Participatory Action Research As Praxis of Resistance

Friday, January 14, 2022: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Congress, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Symposium Organizer:
Sid Jordan, JD, University of California, Los Angeles
Lee Ann Wang, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
Participatory action research (PAR) - an approach that seeks to democratize knowledge building processes and contribute to transformative social change - is an orientation to research that can be particularly compatible to racial and social justice goals. Although PAR is not new, academic training programs rarely teach or provide mentorship in using PAR. Doctoral students who engage in PAR face the dual challenges of building accountable relationships within their communities and establishing legitimacy within the academy. These tensions may be heightened when PAR directly challenges institutional racism and other forms of oppression in areas of practice that social welfare, as a field, is deeply invested.

This symposium brings together doctoral students embracing the unabashed political use of PAR for the advancement of racial and social justice goals. We highlight three PAR projects that confront systemic racism in three areas of practice: higher education, child welfare, and domestic and sexual violence prevention. Each paper engages with the process and methodological aspects of PAR including approaches to building and maintaining research collectives, defining theories and areas of inquiry, and disseminating findings, as well as research findings and actions taken in the context of PAR as practices of resistances.

First, Melanie- a white female scholar whose work centers healing justice- and Dominique- a Black scholar focused on the eradication of state violence against families of color- will present a Photovoice project created by and for undergraduate Black women to center their experiences within two predominantly white universities (PWIs). The paper argues that it is essential that social work researchers support Black students to create, analyze, and disseminate research that centers their experiences within predominantly white universities (PWIs). Findings highlight the need to amplify the voices of Black undergraduates to influence decision making that impacts Black wellness in PWIs.

Next, Sid will present from a project with community organizers in Seattle that focused on domestic and sexual violence prevention strategies rooted in antiracism and anti-oppressive practice.. Alongside activist-led efforts to defund the police in 2020, Mapping Prevention created data to characterize and move local funding toward transformative domestic and sexual violence prevention practices outside systems of policing and punishment.

Finally, Victoria will present from a community-driven project with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition which focuses on interrogating and investigating data and technology use within the LA County Child Welfare System. The project aims to disseminate data that maps the information-sharing environment within the child welfare system, building off of previous research from the Coalition.

This symposium offers lessons learned from PAR in response to anti-Blackness, racism, and other intersecting forms of oppression that pervade institutions of higher education, the primary location in which research skills are taught and produced. Each presenter will consider the use of PAR as a resistance praxis in dismantling privatized knowledge systems and challenging white supremacy to advance racial and social justice.

* noted as presenting author
Re-Lensing Predominantly White Universities: Examining and Advocating for Black Thriving within PWI through Photovoice
Melanie Sonsteng-Person, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles; Dominique Mikell, MSW, University of California, Los Angeles
Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Outside of Systems of Policing and Punishment: Participatory Action Research in the Defund Moment
Sid Jordan, JD, University of California, Los Angeles; DeAnn Alcantara-Thompson, Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence
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