Special Issue "New Trends in Community-Engaged Research: Co-producing Knowledge for Justice"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760). This special issue belongs to the section "Community and Urban Sociology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 16269

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Steven McKay
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sociology Department, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
Interests: labor and labor markets; political sociology; globalization and social change; migration and racial formation; Southeast Asia
Dr. Claudia Lopez
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Sociology, California State University, Long Beach, CA 90815, USA
Interests: global migration; displacement; citizenship; gender; race; class; critical urban studies; collective memory; social movements; Latin America

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

There is an exciting resurgence in critical public scholarship: a push for universities to reach beyond their academic audiences and build stronger partnerships with community-based organizations and others to address pressing social issues (Burawoy 2006, Hartmann 2017). A particularly rich vein of engaged scholarship is the involvement of students and community partners as equal knowledge producers. The special issue brings together university scholars, community-based practitioners and researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students to highlight new trends in community-based research. The articles center community-engaged work on justice-related issues such as: immigrant rights, housing, labor, education, and schools - magnifying the multiple assets and collective power that diverse scholars and community-based practitioners bring to collective approaches, particularly in growing urban spaces. The special issue will be split into two sections: articles about the *process* of conducting community-engaged scholarship – it's theory, methods, epistemology, ethics; and articles drawing *from* community engaged research projects. 

Dr. Steven McKay
Dr. Claudia Lopez
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • community-based research
  • critical public scholarship
  • urban
  • policy advocacy
  • community organizing
  • participatory action research

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Article
Towards Community Rooted Research and Praxis: Reflections on the BSS Safety and Youth Justice Project
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(5), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050195 - 29 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 998
Abstract
This article focuses on the Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS) Safety and Youth Justice project to describe what we refer to as a Community Rooted and Research Praxis (CRRP) approach. BSS is an organizing coalition for boys, young men, and masculine-identifying youth of color [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the Brothers, Sons, Selves (BSS) Safety and Youth Justice project to describe what we refer to as a Community Rooted and Research Praxis (CRRP) approach. BSS is an organizing coalition for boys, young men, and masculine-identifying youth of color that works to decriminalize communities of color. In 2018, BSS developed a survey to capture how safety and justice is experienced by youth of color across multiple contexts and institutions in Los Angeles County. With over 3000 surveys collected, the findings have now been used to promote racial equity and decriminalize youth at the local and state level. Building on a Black Radical Tradition, including abolitionists struggles against the carceral state, in this paper, we name CRRP as a framework to describe BSS’s community engaged scholarship. In other words, we contend that the CRRP approach is a mode of community engaged scholarship that brings together youth, university affiliated adults, and community organizations to engage in youth participatory action, research, political education, and collective struggle. Full article
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Article
Walking to Build a Critical Community-Engaged Project: Collaborative Observations of Neighborhood Change in Long Beach, California
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(5), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11050183 - 20 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1136
Abstract
Academic and community research partnerships have gained traction as a potential bridge between the university and local area to address pressing social issues. A key question for developing justice-oriented research is how to integrate best practices for creating genuine, authentic research partnerships. In [...] Read more.
Academic and community research partnerships have gained traction as a potential bridge between the university and local area to address pressing social issues. A key question for developing justice-oriented research is how to integrate best practices for creating genuine, authentic research partnerships. In this paper, we discuss the process of building a critical community-engaged project that examines how urban redevelopment changes neighborhoods within immigrant and/or communities of color. Focusing on Long Beach, California, in this article, we detail the development of a mixed-methods study that involves undergraduate students and community members as co-collaborators. We discuss the use and outcomes of co-walking as method, emphasizing observational findings, as well as the process of building team collaboration. We find that neighborhoods in Long Beach are changing rapidly in terms of the use of greening, increased technology integration within neighborhoods, and modern aesthetics, revealing that new residents will likely be younger and single residents with disposable income and no children. From this process, we identified a more critical question for the research project: “Development for whom?”. We argue that co-walking as method is an observational and relational process that assists with the foundational steps of building a critical community-engaged research project. Full article
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Article
A Model for Engaging Students, Faculty, and Communities in Social Action through a Community-Based Curriculum and Admissions Process—A Case Study of the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers University—Newark
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(4), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11040162 - 02 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1471
Abstract
The Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) pushes the boundaries of academia’s possibilities by placing community-engaged scholarship as a critical pillar of student success. Established in 2015, the HLLC is pursuing its triumvirate rallying call—“revolutionizing honors, cultivating talent, and engaging communities”. [...] Read more.
The Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC) at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) pushes the boundaries of academia’s possibilities by placing community-engaged scholarship as a critical pillar of student success. Established in 2015, the HLLC is pursuing its triumvirate rallying call—“revolutionizing honors, cultivating talent, and engaging communities”. The HLLC brings together dynamic students passionate about social justice issues, Rutgers University-Newark faculty and staff, and community partners aiming to tackle some of the nation’s most urgent social issues. Pivoting on a curriculum structured around what it means to be a local citizen in a global world, the HLLC brings students and faculty members from every school and college at Rutgers-Newark together with community-based partners to operationalize authentic experiential learning. With its emphasis on social action and issues of inequality, the HLLC brings together the academic sphere and community-based organizations to design and implement projects and courses that promote social justice in the community and enact ameliorative changes based on shared passions and mutual interests. Through a multimodal approach grounded in literature and best practices, the HLLC is built intentionally from the ground up on high-impact practices for student success and the principles of full participation. This paper highlights the HLLC’s efforts to engage students and community members through community-engaged courses and programs to address issues such as inequity. Furthermore, the authors offer a model that actively moves beyond theory to practice-based initiatives within an honor’s academic context. Examples of the HLLC’s initiatives are presented to enhance the discourse around collective knowledge building and community-engaged research by highlighting student and community partner-led initiatives. Given the HLLC’s resolve to develop a national model, the paper dedicates special attention to pedagogy and programs. Full article
Article
Intersectional Organizing and Educational Justice: How Lived Experience Influences Community Organizers’ Understanding and Practice of Intersectional Organizing
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(4), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11040147 - 23 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1094
Abstract
Recently, education organizers working with youth and parents have taken intersectional approaches. Little research, however, considers how personal experience informs these understandings and the approaches organizers take. The purpose of this study is to understand how social locations like gender identity and race [...] Read more.
Recently, education organizers working with youth and parents have taken intersectional approaches. Little research, however, considers how personal experience informs these understandings and the approaches organizers take. The purpose of this study is to understand how social locations like gender identity and race inform organizers’ understanding and practice of intersectional organizing. We interviewed eight community, parent, and youth organizers with a variety of racial and gender identities. The organizers are members of the People’s Think Tank (PTT), an idea and strategy space that includes organizers and activist scholars working together to strengthen and expand the educational justice movement. We found three different practices of intersectional organizing. One subgroup of organizers understands intersectional organizing as a tool for interrogating power and privilege. A second subgroup of organizers understands intersectional organizing as centering the lives of the most marginalized. Finally, the third subgroup of organizers stated that terms like “interconnected” and “intergenerational” are preferred terms when talking about intersectional organizing. Our analysis finds that an individuals’ lived experience impacts how they understand intersectional organizing and that engagement in intersectional organizing helps individuals better understand their social identities. We discuss the relationship between these distinct approaches and how they relate to intersectional organizing. Full article
Article
Co-Constructing Knowledge for Action in Research Practice Partnerships
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(3), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11030140 - 20 Mar 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1125
Abstract
Community-engaged research (CER) aspires to co-construct knowledge for action in groups that recognize people’s varied expertise and engage in democratic decision making. The CER literature has chronicled these processes in small participatory collectives but is less clear on the strategies or principles that [...] Read more.
Community-engaged research (CER) aspires to co-construct knowledge for action in groups that recognize people’s varied expertise and engage in democratic decision making. The CER literature has chronicled these processes in small participatory collectives but is less clear on the strategies or principles that guide collaborative approaches to data analysis in research partnerships that have hundreds of contributors playing distinct roles. The purpose of this paper is to critically assess and describe strategies for co-constructing knowledge with students and teachers who participated in a study that grew out of a broader research–practice partnership. In Part I of our findings, drawing on the concept of prefigurative experiments, we discuss the collaborative practices in our research team that took shape as we prepared data claims to share with students and teachers. In Part II, we discuss sessions interpreting the data with students and teachers in which they conveyed the emotional, embodied, and relational dimensions of student voice experiences. We conclude by discussing how this effort to be accountable to and in relationship with students and teachers, while incomplete on its own, spurred the design of new practices for democratizing data analysis and knowledge production in our research–practice partnership. Full article
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Article
Beyond Inclusion: Cultivating a Critical Sense of Belonging through Community-Engaged Research
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(3), 132; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11030132 - 17 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1187
Abstract
A broad body of literature outlines the interventions to support underrepresented and minoritized students’ inclusion and sense of belonging into university contexts. In this paper, we explore how two first-generation students of color articulate a critical sense of belonging through their reflections as [...] Read more.
A broad body of literature outlines the interventions to support underrepresented and minoritized students’ inclusion and sense of belonging into university contexts. In this paper, we explore how two first-generation students of color articulate a critical sense of belonging through their reflections as student researchers in the Apprenticeship in Community-Engaged Research or (H)ACER program at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). (H)ACER integrates community engagement, ethnographic sensibilities, critical race and decolonial theory, as well as women of color feminisms into a curriculum designed to train critical scholar-researchers. Through themes of feeling isolated on campus and returning ‘home’ in the garden, building comfort with academic theory, and navigating insider/outsider identities in campus/community contexts, we trace how the students developed an awareness of their positionality and made sense of their experiences of ‘belonging’, both within the campus and community contexts. Their narratives spark our deeper exploration into how critical approaches to community-engaged research may offer a pedagogy for supporting student sense of belonging that extends beyond inclusion, a promising vein of further research. Full article
Article
Movement-Based Participatory Inquiry: The Multi-Voiced Story of the Survivors Justice Project
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(3), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11030129 - 15 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1213
Abstract
We write as the Survivors Justice Project (SJP), a legal/organizing/social work/research collective born in the aftermath of the 2019 passage of the New York State Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), a law that allows judges to re-sentence survivors of domestic violence currently [...] Read more.
We write as the Survivors Justice Project (SJP), a legal/organizing/social work/research collective born in the aftermath of the 2019 passage of the New York State Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA), a law that allows judges to re-sentence survivors of domestic violence currently in prison and to grant shorter terms or program alternatives to survivors upon their initial sentencing. Our work braids litigation, social research, advocacy, organizing, popular education, professional development for the legal and social work communities, and support for women in prison going through the DVSJA process and those recently released. We are organized to theorize and co-produce new knowledges about the gendered and racialized violence of the carceral state and, more specifically, to support women currently serving time in New York State to access/understand the law, submit petitions, and hopefully be freed. In this article we review our collective work engaged through research and action, bridging higher education and movements for decarceration through racial/gender/economic justice, and venture into three aspects of our praxis: epistemic justice in our internal dynamics; accountabilities and deep commitments to women still incarcerated and those recently released, even and especially during COVID-19; and delicate solidarities, exploring external relations with policy makers, judges, defense attorneys, advocates, and prosecutors in New York State, other states, and internationally. Full article
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Article
“Lots of Time They Don’t Pay”: Understanding Wage-Theft and Resistance in Bryan, Texas through Critical Community-Engaged Research
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(3), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11030102 - 28 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1207
Abstract
This critical community-engaged mixed methods study quantifies worker mistreatment on day labor corners in Bryan, Texas, and examines how day laborers resist labor exploitation. Day laborers seek work in open air spot markets. The work is precarious, with temporary and unregulated employment relations, [...] Read more.
This critical community-engaged mixed methods study quantifies worker mistreatment on day labor corners in Bryan, Texas, and examines how day laborers resist labor exploitation. Day laborers seek work in open air spot markets. The work is precarious, with temporary and unregulated employment relations, weak enforcement, and poor working conditions. In this weak penalty and labor enforcement regime, labor violations are not surprising. Contrary to dominant theories, however, we argue that demand-side (industry) characteristics are more important for explaining the prevalence of labor violation than supply-side (worker characteristics). We use the Central Texas Day Labor Survey (2012–2021), 210 ethnosurveys consisting of 55% unauthorized workers, 24% authorized workers, and 20% Latinx, Black, and White citizens. We find that higher indices of labor violations and work abuse are not associated with lower-status workers; all workers, irrespective of legal status or citizenship, experienced abuse by employers. Demand-side characteristics were partially associated with higher levels of wage theft and mistreatment. In terms of wages, we found a gradation of wages with the lowest for unauthorized immigrants, then authorized immigrants, Latinx citizens, Black citizens, and lastly White citizens. Finally, workers collectively fight back against injustice by warning each other about unscrupulous employers. Full article
Article
[Black] Teachers Resisting Damaged-Centered Research: Community Listening Exchanges as a Reciprocal Research Tool in a Gentrifying City
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 84; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020084 - 19 Feb 2022
Viewed by 1151
Abstract
Gentrification impacts many cities across the nation. Affordable housing task forces and legislation meant to address housing inequities are becoming more common, yet the authentic experiences of those affected are often unacknowledged. Absent from the discussion of gentrification are the voices of those [...] Read more.
Gentrification impacts many cities across the nation. Affordable housing task forces and legislation meant to address housing inequities are becoming more common, yet the authentic experiences of those affected are often unacknowledged. Absent from the discussion of gentrification are the voices of those deeply impacted, some who are at the center of the work to maintain communities: Black teachers, Black students, and Black families. In many school districts, teachers do not have the opportunity to address the systemic issues that impact their students and communities. Still, it is impossible to ignore the ways societal injustice seeps into the classroom. This article discusses our work as a teacher participatory action research collective exploring the intersection of housing and educational displacement in a rapidly gentrifying community in Southwest Atlanta, Georgia. We highlight our roles as community-centered educators and detail how we intentionally and thoughtfully worked to create a reciprocal space to engage communities in Community Listening Exchanges. We present Community Listening Exchanges as a justice-centered innovation to community-engaged research and scholarship. Our critical and collaborative approach to generating and analyzing data allowed us to uncover how housing and educational displacement relies on deficit narratives to justify the removal of marginalized people. We offer CLEs as a reciprocal research tool that deviates from traditional qualitative research and resists anti-Black, damage-centered narratives. Full article
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Article
Co-Education/Co-Research Partnership: A Critical Approach to Co-Learning between Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and Tufts University
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020071 - 14 Feb 2022
Viewed by 755
Abstract
Community–university partnerships that purport to promote the public good are often fraught with institutional and cultural challenges that can contribute to the injustices they seek to address. This paper describes how one partnership has been navigating these tensions through a critical approach to [...] Read more.
Community–university partnerships that purport to promote the public good are often fraught with institutional and cultural challenges that can contribute to the injustices they seek to address. This paper describes how one partnership has been navigating these tensions through a critical approach to power. The Co-Education/Co-Research (CORE) partnership has been built over the last decade between Tufts University and Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a community organizing and planning group in Boston. We have been co-producing knowledge and action to further community control over development, and we have found that institutional shifts, such as co-governance and the equitable sharing of funding, are leading to longer term impacts for the community partner and breaking down the boundaries between university and community. However, using a relational view of power, we have also found that some of our everyday practices can subtly maintain and reinforce inequities, such as valuing academic knowledge over that of community residents and practitioners. Addressing these cultural and ideological challenges requires critical and reflexive practice. It is messy relational work that requires a lot of communication and trust and, most of all, time and long-term commitment. Full article
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Article
Challenging “Citizen Science”: Liminal Status Students and Community-Engaged Research
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020066 - 10 Feb 2022
Viewed by 773
Abstract
The problematic term “citizen science” continues to circulate in scholarly circles and points to challenges with how researchers may conceptualize who takes part in community-engaged inquiry. Emerging from experiences with a research team intentionally comprised of students who are undocumented, political asylees, and [...] Read more.
The problematic term “citizen science” continues to circulate in scholarly circles and points to challenges with how researchers may conceptualize who takes part in community-engaged inquiry. Emerging from experiences with a research team intentionally comprised of students who are undocumented, political asylees, and those belonging to mixed status families, we seek to center how immigration status can inform justice-oriented research processes. By focusing on students experiencing liminal status, we note both the structural barriers they face as well as their agency. Through a critical reflexive process, we outline four key tensions that address skills, authenticity, inclusivity, and possibilities relevant to mixed status teams conducting community-engaged research. By exploring how citizenship status impacts research at epistemological and applied levels, we arrive at more inclusive and just possibilities for community-engaged research. Full article
Article
Empowering Workers and Learners through a Combined Participatory Action Research and Research Justice Approach
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020060 - 08 Feb 2022
Viewed by 719
Abstract
The UCLA Labor Center used a combined participatory action research and research justice approach to study the challenges faced by workers and learners. Workers and learners are students who work while studying throughout their college careers. This research project has been carried out [...] Read more.
The UCLA Labor Center used a combined participatory action research and research justice approach to study the challenges faced by workers and learners. Workers and learners are students who work while studying throughout their college careers. This research project has been carried out with the assistance of undergraduate students and college partners. We outline in detail the process we undertook to involve more than 500 students, beginning with the study design and ending with the dissemination of study results. We discuss the ways in which we, as researchers, were able to intentionally engage participants and honor their knowledge throughout the research process in order to advance policy reforms. This work entails of incorporating tenets of participatory action research (PAR) and Research Justice (RJ) to build the capacity of partners to produce knowledge. To this end, the work involves participants in every step of the knowledge lifecycle so that research across varying disciplines can impact education and employment policies that improve conditions for workers and learners in workplaces and universities and colleges. Full article
Article
The Hijab Project: Troubling Conceptions of Agency and Piety through Community-Engaged Art Making
Soc. Sci. 2022, 11(2), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11020039 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1188
Abstract
This article focuses on The Hijab Project, a collective art exhibit that was created by a Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) collective to address assumptions about Muslim women and girls who veil. The art project used data from a survey collect at [...] Read more.
This article focuses on The Hijab Project, a collective art exhibit that was created by a Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) collective to address assumptions about Muslim women and girls who veil. The art project used data from a survey collect at Mount Top High, a suburban public high school in Utah, to inform the need for a public intervention that addressed issues of Islamophobia during a time of contentious political climate in the United States. Using transnational feminism to think about concepts of agency and piety, the article contends that, despite traditional framing of Muslim women as passive victims, through their artwork, the girls in this research group prove that religiosity and choice are not dichotomous. Lastly, this piece argues that The Hijab Project represents a successful example of critical community-engaged scholarship by demonstrating that partnerships between community members and universities can be a force for civic engagement and social change. Full article
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