Friday, January 13, 2023: 3:45 PM-5:15 PM
Valley of the Sun D, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Sustainable Development, Urbanization, and Environmental Justice
Irene Routte, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Amy Krings, MSW, PhD, Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work
Despite its foundational reliance on socio-ecological theories like the person-in-environment perspective and Bronfenbrenner's ecological model, contemporary social work scholarship tends to avoid, with some notable exceptions, rigorous engagement with the study and theorization of space and place. With an emphasis on the individual in the context of social environments, there has been minimal discourse on how space, place, and spatiality are incorporated into social work theory production. Furthermore, modes of Evidence-Based Practice, which prioritize the replicability and transportability of social interventions across space and time, may contribute to the de-prioritization of attention to space, place, and material (built and natural) environments. Yet, at the same time, recent concomitant international crises of climate-related environmental disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and rapid increases in forced migration have laid bare the ways in which geographic, environmental, and spatial conditions shape, constitute, and complicate social interventions -- and will continue to do so with ever more acute consequences in the future. Nevertheless, social work research on environmental conditions tends to focus primarily on the ways these conditions impact movement in relation to accessibility of psychosocial resources, rather than expanding understandings of how space and place influence well-being at various scales and for different populations. Therefore, as researchers and practitioners, we must attend to the material ways that space and place shape, and are shaped by, social practice in the communities where we work.
This interdisciplinary symposium brings together papers attending to space and place across various contexts with the overall goal of asking, how do space and place shape experience and social intervention for those most marginalized in our society? Simultaneously, how does social work practice actively involve the production of space and place? We follow this by asking how multifaceted understandings of space and place influence the ways in which we approach research and practice to further equity and wellbeing at interpersonal, meso, and macro levels. Each paper touches upon how incorporation of place-based frameworks and socio-environmental interventions contribute to positive changes for individuals, organizations, and communities. These papers range widely across topical areas: including clinical practice, public health, forced migration and refugee resettlement, and environmental justice and climate change. These issues span a wide geographic range: presenting data from both international locations and the United States, as well as from urban, suburban, and rural settings. Presenters also engage with a wide range of disciplines: including geography, history, anthropological and ethnographic scholarship, environmental studies, and urban planning and design. These papers ask what attention to space, place, and the particularity of the local can reveal about trauma, displacement, and wayfinding (Routte), moral values and ethical commitments (Mathias), and the ways we experience distanced care in an era of protracted and overlapping socio-medical crises (Berringer et al.).
* noted as presenting author