Abstract: Photovoice As Participatory Action Research in Times of Climate Crisis (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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165P Photovoice As Participatory Action Research in Times of Climate Crisis

Friday, January 13, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Nidia Hernandez, MSW, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Meredith Powers, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC
Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, Doctoral Student, Sacred Heart University, CT
The recent UN Climate Report (IPCC, 2021) provides evidence, adding to the overwhelming body of research,demonstrating the detrimental effects of climate change and environmental degradation creating injustices for both people and planet (i.e., climate injustices). This dire global climate crisis and the intersecting injustices (e.g., chronic racism, sexism, poverty, human rights and nature rights violations) demands the attention of social workers, allied professions, and the communities in which we work. In order to address these issues, the global profession of social work is shifting to mainstream the embrace of ecosocial worldviews. Ecosocial worldviews recognize the interconnectedness of all life in the ecosystem, promote relationships, reciprocity, and responsibility within current and future generations. Ecosocial worldviews already exist and have endured within many Indigenous, First Nations, and traditional peoples, and are already part of social work, though not yet mainstreamed.

Additionally, we need tools and techniques, situated within ecosocial worldviews, in order to rapidly advance our action to redress the climate crisis. Photovoice, a participatory action research technique, is one such tool that is becoming increasingly utilized in social work on climate justice issues, such as the inequities related to the burden of waste, degradation, and proximity to locations at higher risk of environmental disasters. Based on an extensive review of the current literature, this poster presents: 1) how photovoice is being used to address climate justice topics, 2) how photovoice is being implemented (both in process and outcomes) in ways that are consistent with ecosocial worldviews, and 3) how photovoice is moving towards action on these urgent topics. To accomplish this, we first developed a new, “Ecosocial Justice Framework,” based on ecosocial worldviews and social justice frameworks (which are situated in an anthropocentric worldview). We present this framework as an additional, unique resource for social workers to utilize in research and practice, within and beyond projects employing the Photovoice technique.

During our initial, extensive search of the literature (2011-2021) we found an exorbitant number of articles that fit our search criteria (N=115), thus we drew a random sample (N= 23) to conduct our analysis. Using our “Ecosocial Justice Framework”, we conducted a content analysis on the literature. Results include findings from this content analysis and are organized as concrete tips when considering using this technique, including pitfalls to avoid. Additionally, each of the co-authors has extensive expertise and experience with the Photovoice method in various communities on topics related to environmental issues (i.e., a public housing community in the Southeast, a sustainable community farm in the Southeast, local Suburban tribal community in the Northeast, and an American Indian tribe in the Midwest). For this poster presentation, we will draw upon these experiences to give concrete examples, as it relates to the findings of this study. Discussion also includes implications for social workers, other professionals, and communities, as it relates to the importance of not only participatory research methods, but also the urgency of action-oriented research from ecosocial worldviews in these current times of climate crisis.