Abstract: Ethical Care and Justice in Community-Engaged Research with Communities Experiencing Surveillance and Policing (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

Ethical Care and Justice in Community-Engaged Research with Communities Experiencing Surveillance and Policing

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Encanto A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Alana Gunn, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL
Yvonne Isom, PhD, Faculty, Arizona State University, AZ
Sage Kim, PhD, Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Linda Weatherspoon, BA, Organizer, Roll Call Organization, IL
Background and Purpose: Hyper-incarceration and surveillance have affected the physical and mental health of under-resourced Black and Latinx communities of color. In particular, chronic exposure to neighborhood stress, including constant fear of police encounters and potential arrests, contributes to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety. In addition, heightened surveillance also shapes community well-being, as it disrupts social network ties and support systems that provide a basis for neighborhood social capital. Unfortunately, hyper-surveillance and incarceration have become a collective experience for many impoverished, communities of color navigating systems of disadvantage. With experiences of surveillance impacting one’s well-being, it is critical to explore how we as community-engaged scholars create research spaces to explore these critical and timely issues in ways to promote reflexive knowledge production as well as power equity, social and political advocacy.

Emerging community-based research efforts are framing the engagement process as an opportunity for communities to tell their narratives on their own terms and elucidate their challenges to others. At the community level, research participation has been framed as a political strategy for disrupting biased knowledge production, allowing populations to tell their collective stories in ways rarely communicated. At the micro level, the research endeavor can become empowering, even therapeutic for people navigating life experiences of harm. This presentation will explore the ways in which communities of color experiencing surveillance and hyper-incarceration view the community based participatory research process as they explore both historical and contemporary experiences of surveillance.

Methods: This project is currently implementing a mixed qualitative research strategy, which utilizes a photovoice method followed by semi-structured interviews to explore the lived experiences of individuals with previous criminal involvement living in Chicago. With a sample of 20 justice- involved individuals our RWJF team is exploring how participants view their community, their familial relationships, interactions with police and how this shapes their mental and physical health.

Results: Preliminary findings reveal that communities navigating hyper surveillance perceive the research process as a context for telling their stories and empowerment. Participants view methods of photovoice voice as critical ways to reflect on how their experiences such as of policing and violence are shaping their health. Participants also discussed the community engaged process of researchers’ telling of their own stories as critical to building relational trust. While participants reported risks of emotional distress particularly as they engage in photovoice, sharing knowledge through group sessions and community exhibits about the ways in which surveillance shapes well-being was seen as an advocacy opportunity as well as a way of reflectively healing.

Conclusions and Implications: The implications underscore the need for greater considerations of how experiences of multi-system oppression shape the research process and how scholars can further promote compassionate research and interviewing strategies embedded in a critical ethics of care and justice.