Change Research: A Case Study on Collaborative Methods for Social Workers and Advocates
By Corey Shdaimah, Roland Stahl, and Sanford F. Schram
“Change Research demonstrates the power of participatory action research for identifying creative alternatives to neoliberal housing policy. The authors reveal the limits of traditional policy research and share insights gained from negotiating the challenges and rewards of participatory approaches. Accessible, practical, and written by activist researchers who are passionate about the value of research for social change, this book offers important lessons for social workers, policy makers, advocates, and social scientists interested in using their skills to advance social justice.”—Nancy A. Naples, University of Connecticut
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 ownership and home 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.
“Instead of perpetuating the dichotomy between ‘evidence-based’ and ‘change-oriented’ research, the authors argue compellingly that social justice goals must inform all aspects of the research process and that value-based research has equal validity with conventional academic research. In doing so, they reestablish the connection between social science and social action central to the history of social work.”—Michael Reisch, University of Maryland, School of Social Work
“This is a one-of-a-kind book. The authors do not just talk about collaboration, they tell the story of the nitty-gritty process of trying—successfully—to work with community advocates. A wonderful book about how it all worked and could and should work at the ground level.”—John Tropman, author of Successful Community Organization and Leadership: A Skills Guide for Volunteers and Professionals
“Erudite, accessible, eloquent, and cutting-edge informative, this book beautifully blends the normative and empirical, all in the service of social work’s traditional focus on marginalized, underserved, and generally voiceless persons and the institutions and policies that purportedly serve them.”—Roberta R. Iversen, author of Jobs Aren’t Enough: Toward a New Economic Mobility for Low-Income Families
Corey Shdaimah is assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Roland Stahl is assistant professor at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts School of Social Work .
Sanford F. Schram teaches social theory and social policy at the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr College, and is an affiliate to the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.