Monday, April 5, 2010

Concepts & Methods in Community Interventions

Psychology 298 - Conceptual and Methodological Issues in Community Interventions with Dr. Hector Myers

"There are no simple answers or solutions. Social psychology assumes multiple levels of analysis and puts the individual in a context. As a scientist, we can choose to focus on one level, but there are multiple levels to phenomenon.

Community research includes...
...research in the community which requires a certain skill set and politics
...research with the community, a trend in public health, where the researcher is not in control in the usual way because now the community is a partner (community-based participatory research)
...research on the community where the unit of analysis is the community as an entity (dynamics, risk factors, etc.)

Community consultation (asking community for feedback and support) vs. collaboration (shared ownership)

Multi-level analysis - examine factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of social problems and understand behavior at all levels (individual, groups, community, societal, institutional, etc.). Individual behaviors contribute to problem, but didn't cause the problem.

Treating the consequences of the problem vs. the causes

Why is violence clustered in poor communities? Guns are not produced or manufactured by communities - they are coming in from the outside! Gun distribution and consumption is prevalent in these communities, but not manufacturing. Who is benefiting by marketing guns to the poor? Demand is manufactured and created by outside forces. If community members feel threatened, then they will buy guns to protect themselves. Manufacturing fear is profitable, powerfully effective and oppressive politically. Competition makes guns bigger, that is kids will always try to outdo each other. If you're in the gun business, who is your ideal market? Saturday night specials are cheaply made and sold guns developed specifically for the poor.

Consequences clustered around poor communities are produced and maintained outside of the community.

So what is holding how low communities, families and students are going to fall? What is going right? Someone steps up. There are individual/family/community resources that we need to identify, understand, and tap into. For example, South LA churches created health ministries to address HIV/AIDS needs in the community.

People are vulnerable to anxiety disorders (including PTSD) given the conditions in which they live. Poverty predicts a lot of variance. Worst health and functioning exist in communities of poverty.

Something is consistently shaping patterns in the brain. The effect on brain of exposure to particular experiences is well documented. If you change the context, then you can change patterning of brain functioning."

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