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May 27 , 2011

Change Research

A Case Study and Methods for Collaborative Social Workers


Collaborating with community members adds a critical dimension to social work research, providing practitioners with intimate knowledge of a community's goals and needs. Yet such partnerships needn't be one-sided. Answering the concerns of critics who doubt the benefits of community surveillance, intentional change research offers a reciprocal model of involvement, in which community advocates gain vital skills for dramatic social change.
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Connie Banks may only be twenty-one but she has seen her fair share of heartache. Always attracted to the “pretty boy” in the past she has made a promise to never allow herself to be taken in by a guy’s looks again. So what if that means she’s spent the last several months alone? Her already poor excuse for self-esteem has not suffered any further…

Sharing the inspiring story of one such partnernship, Corey Shdaimah, Roland Stahl, and Sanford Schram recount their work with community members to launch an affordable housing campaign in Philadelphia, helping activists research problems associated with low-income ownership and home repair in their city. Their collaboration helped create the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which funnels millions of dollars to people in need. This volume describes the origins of the partnership and how it unfolded, including developing tensions and their diffusion in ways that contributed to further research. Rather than abstractly relate principles and procedures, the authors personalize methods of research and the possibilities of advocacy, ultimately connecting their encounters to more general, critical themes. Building on the field's commitment to social justice, they demonstrate the potential of this new approach to facilitate widespread, long-term difference and improve a community’s outcomes.
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