Change Research

Change Research: A Case Study on Collaborative Methods for Social Workers and Advocates

Corey S. Shdaimah
Roland W. Stahl
Sanford F. Schram
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/shda15178
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  • Book Info
    Change Research
    Book Description:

    Collaborating with community members adds a critical dimension to social work research, providing practitioners with intimate knowledge of a community's goals and needs while equipping community advocates with vital skills for social change. Sharing the inspiring story of one such partnership, Corey Shdaimah, Roland Stahl, and Sanford F. Schram recount their efforts working with an affordable housing coalition in Philadelphia, helping activists research low-income home ownership and repair. Their collaboration helped create the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund, which funnels millions of dollars to people in need. This volume describes the origins of their partnership and its growth, including developing tensions and their diffusion in ways that contributed to the research. The authors personalize methods of research and the possibilities for advocacy, ultimately connecting their encounters to more general, critical themes. Building on the field's commitment to social justice, they effectively demonstrate the potential of change research to facilitate widespread, long-term difference and improve community outcomes.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52536-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. PROLOGUE
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    This book is about research. Contrary to most books about social research, it is not about how research has to be done independent of the people and communities who are affected by that research. Instead, it is about how researchers can maintain their credibility as researchers while collaborating with those in the community who are pushing for social change. Our story shows that researchers who collaborate with community partners can conduct credible research while empowering their clients and community partners to obtain the social changes they seek and do so in a way that helps promote more dramatic changes in...

  7. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    THE STORY WE TELL shows that social workers who collaborate with community partners can conduct credible research while empowering their clients and community partners to obtain the social changes they seek. Participatory action research (PAR) and the less inclusive but more recently popular communitybased participatory research (CBPR) can take many forms but always involve working in partnership with community representatives to conduct research. Partnering with advocates helps inform researchers’ efforts to address concerns that confront communities. Many social workers and scholar-activists practice this type of research; we think that others should consider it (Greenbaum 1993).

    Social work researchers and other...

  8. 1 CHANGING RESEARCH / RESEARCHING CHANGE
    (pp. 16-38)

    SOCIAL WORK JOBS can vary from clinical practice with individual clients to collaboration with communities in order to restructure social policies and change the way community institutions operate. Social workers practice at all levels of society in which people, agencies, and systems act. Not all of the roles social workers are asked to perform, however, will necessarily facilitate social change. Social workers may be embedded in institutions and agency settings that constrain their ability to help their clients or to promote broader structural change, and their partners sometimes want changes that will privilege some members of society over others. Such...

  9. 2 REEVALUATING EVALUATION RESEARCH: SOWING THE SEEDS OF DISTRUST
    (pp. 39-51)

    COLLABORATIVE, community-based PAR is an effective antidote for addressing some of the potential biases we have noted for both EBP and CBPR. It is undoubtedly the case that the push for EBP is most heavily felt in clinical social work practice and other individualized forms of assistance in allied helping professions, such as medicine, nursing, and related areas of behavioral health services (Littell, Corcoran, and Pillai 2008). In these areas, collaborative approaches with clients are unlikely to be popular with professionals keen to insist that client participation in structuring practice research may contaminate the quest to prove effectiveness. Clinicians are...

  10. 3 INTRODUCING OUR COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH CASE STUDY: WORKING WITH THE WOMEN’S COMMUNITY REVITALIZATION PROJECT
    (pp. 52-63)

    Collaborative, community-based PAR does not involve the loss of what social scientists bring to their craft because true collaboration does not involve a melding or loss of identity. Social work researchers’ roles force them to remain different in significant ways from the activists with whom they work despite many shared goals. These differences emerged from our own work with our partners when in 2003 we began our collaborative, community-based effort to research the state of low-income housing in the city of Philadelphia. This chapter provides context for understanding the insights that we took away from our experiences. It also provides...

  11. 4 QUANTITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS IN A COLLABORATION RESEARCH PROJECT: LOW-INCOME HOME REPAIR IN PHILADELPHIA
    (pp. 64-81)

    In the spring of 2003, we were recruited by the WCRP in Philadelphia to collaborate on its campaign to persuade the city to increase assistance to enable low-income homeowners to stay in their homes. WCRP works primarily to create safe, affordable housing for women who are becoming independent, often by leaving an abusive partner. As a small, grassroots, self-help organization, WCRP over time became a developer and manager of housing and built a successful, multipurpose social welfare agency. At the time of our involvement, however, WCRP was spearheading the ambitious PAHC, which by the fall of 2005 would get the...

  12. 5 “EVERYDAY WORLD POLICY ANALYSIS” AND LOW-INCOME HOME REPAIR IN PHILADELPHIA: WALKING THROUGH PROGRAMS FROM THE CLIENT PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 82-103)

    THE DESIRE TO UNDERSTAND how people experience policies led us to ask how a homeowner seeking home-repair assistance from the City of Philadelphia experiences the programs that we reviewed in our report. Once again, our research partners were critical in shaping our research to ensure that it would be relevant to their advocacy efforts. The perspectives on current policies that they saw and heard from clients rarely penetrated into the policy arena, so they wanted research that would enable policymakers to see like a client instead of “seeing like a state” (Scott 1998). Using interviews with more than fifty different...

  13. 6 FROM RESEARCH TO RECOMMENDATIONS: THE POLITICS OF PRESENTATION
    (pp. 104-119)

    COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH can pay dividends on multiple levels across all stages of the research process (Staley 2009). Working with community partners from PAHC, we learned more about our topic than if we had gone through the research process alone. Our collaborators pushed us to ask different questions, analyze different types of data, and consult different informants than we would have on our own. Working with community advocates led us to think more seriously about how the presentation of our findings could affect how various audiences, including policymakers, would consider what we found. We had always believed that research could contribute...

  14. 7 THE CHALLENGES OF DOING COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH
    (pp. 120-138)

    THE RESEARCH REPORTED in this book was the result of a collaborative process. This chapter describes in detail the challenges of participating in that process. Collaborations between academic researchers and community groups are increasingly popular, evidenced by the growing number of reports on the topic in academic journals and elsewhere (Hillier and Koppisch 2005; Lennett and Colten 1999; Peterson et al. 2006; Viswanathan et al. 2004) and the recent scholarly debates about CBPR that we reviewed in chapter 1. This means that more and more people are contemplating this type of research and are eager to learn how to manage...

  15. 8 A MODEL FOR COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH
    (pp. 139-171)

    The story of our research with WCRP serves as a case study that illuminates how researchers can play a meaningful role in social change initiatives. Our story suggests that to carry out that role effectively, researchers might need to adapt their understanding of how to conduct research. Rather than clinging to models of social research that postulate objectivity as the absolute goal of knowledge production, researchers interested in facilitating social change should think about the benefits gained by collaborating with people who are seeking changes. This chapter offers a model for doing just that.

    Broadly speaking, we can identify three...

  16. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 172-180)

    In 1936, Karl Mannheim published an important book entitled Ideology and Utopia: A Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge. In this book, Mannheim argued that because politicians were so overcome by bias and prejudice, public policy ought to be made through a process of democratic planning that featured experts who relied on knowledge grounded in objective research. Mannheim himself, however, had consistently noted the existence of a “sociology of knowledge” that limited all knowledge to the place and time in which it was created, thereby making it less than perfectly objective. The aspiration to rise above politics in spite of...

  17. APPENDIX A: RESOURCES FOR DOING COMMUNITY-BASED RESEARCH
    (pp. 181-183)
  18. APPENDIX B: AMERICAN HOUSING SURVEY DEFINITIONS
    (pp. 184-186)
  19. NOTES
    (pp. 187-188)
  20. REFERENCES
    (pp. 189-202)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 203-214)