Psychology

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Any initiative that actively engages adolescents to take control of their lives by illustrating how they can actively and positively participate in their social environment instead of being a victim of it, is powerful.  Wallerstein, Sanchez-Merki & Dow (2006) explore a program that utilized at its heart Freirian empowerment education methods and Ronald Rogers (1984 in Wallerstein, Sanchez-Merki & Dow, 2006) protection-motivation behavior change theory and applied it to a health education intervention program in New Mexico public schools, the Adolescent Social Action Program.  Unfortunately, due to funding issues, the program has since closed.  While this may be a simplistic rendering of the program, the adolescent participants in the program actively engaged one another, were taught how to apply critical thinking to their own lives and their actions and the actions of others.  Instead of letting life happen to them, they took an active role in their own lives and, through Rogers’ social change model, they began social and health projects for the schools and communities where they live.  Those projects included an exploration of social-legal policies, community resources, and prevention strategies for risky behaviors.

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Quantitative Research Design

Introduction

Area of Interest and Statement of the Issue.  My primary area of research interest is the influence of sexism in media propaganda upon the self-esteem of Black American teen girls and young women.  Queries into propaganda research and the influence on gender and racist stereotypes have revealed no direct studies of the subject or any related subjects.  Let me be clear here.  There is an abundance of quantitative and qualitative research into the influence of stereotypes, of sexism and racism embedded in the English language (Sunderland, 2006), and even of the influence of sexist media programming and advertising upon women and (Sunderland, 2006).  However, I am unable to find any research that explicitly identifies this as unintentional propaganda (Doob, 1966) or as “penetration of an ideology by means of its sociological context” (Ellul, 1969). There is a gap between media and propaganda and between sexism and propaganda that this research hopes to connect and fill.

Theoretical perspectives.  The quantitative theory that would be most aligned with this particular topic is correlational modeling research where path analysis maps the relationships between a number of variables and displays the degree to which any of them can be used to predict one or more variables (Locke, et al, 2010).  In this theory, lines are given a direction of influence and the number given for each line indicates the degree of influence that has been exerted.  Swim, et al. (2004) utilize modelling to measure the association between Modern Sexist beliefs and identifying and engaging in subtle sexist behavior.  Connelly and Heesacker (2012) utilized structural equation modeling to explore the extent to which benevolent sexism is positively associated with life satisfaction.  The scales included benevolent sexism, hostile sexism, system justification and life satisfaction.  Oehlhof (2011) use structural equation modeling that took into account objectifying experiences, internalized experiences, and psychosocial outcomes related to self-objectification of overweight women.

The study of sexism in media propaganda has not been researched specifically via the influence of unintentional propaganda but it has been studied via the influence of media programming (Lafky, et al, 1996; Plakoyiannaki, et al, 2008, Plakoyiannaki and Zotos, 2009).  The manner that influence has been described in past studies is described as propaganda elsewhere (Doob, 1966) as well as sociological, cultural, and societally embedded (Ellul, 1969).

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While I am very enthusiastically in support of participatory action research as well as asset-based community development (ABCD) I am also in favor of combining methods to use, whatever is most effective.  In this case, neither of the above seemed to work for the Tenderloin Senior Outreach Project but a combination of methods utilizing adaptations of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and ABCD did accomplish the task.  Addressing a specific issue was not as effective as addressing the overall situation and engaging the community members in contributing solutions that included them in the process. Given what I have researched, it is infinitely more effective to engage the community (top and bottom) in a combined approach that brings about effective change.

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While this article was written in 2006, and Klitzman, et al (2006) discuss lead poisoning in the water system of New York City, I have to ask, why there is no initiative federally to eliminate the poisons in our water, when, albeit only limitedly, unfortunately, the 14th amendment was used to break down some Jim Crow laws based on the interstate commerce clause. And in 2016, there is still an ongoing problem in Flint, Michigan and several other cities that no agency seems to want to deal with or fix.  What then?  How do we fix this?  There are water filters that can and will work, and yet states and cities are not stepping forward to provide these solutions or any others.

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Creativity is part of human life and it may be a part of existence on earth whether it is human or not, but that is a conversation and a debate for a later day.  Human beings, and this is my view, have an innate and vital need to create, whether it is procreation or some other form of artistic creativity, it is a need that is basic to all of us.  In this, I obviously differ from Cropley (2011) who views definitions of creativity that include everything that I would, except the sex act and procreation (though for some that can be terribly pedestrian).  Cropley understand the creative process, however, and includes everything from problem-solving to art.

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While there is a rich history of peace psychology according to Christie, et al that dates back to William James (Christie, et al 2008), there is also a rich history of conflict resolution, of peaceful anti-war protests, of the Society of Friends (Quakers) engaging in conscientious objection and outward neutrality during conflicts while participating in the Underground Railroad, and the Unitarian-universalist activities of the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  However, I don’t have access to the resources to cite any books or articles verifying these statements, though they are all part of the historic record.  Additionally, there are other practitioners I am familiar with engaging in conflict resolution that are not subscribing to the branding of peace psychology here.  The article makes no mention of that, and I take issue with any claim-laying to an exclusive idea like the Europeans did with the land we are standing on as well as Africa.  I won’t deny that peace psychology may have contributed some concepts to peace studies overall.

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The title of Foshee’s (1998) article suggests preventative measures to minimize adolescent dating abuse. It is, but I will take issue with a few basic ideas and methods later. Towards that end, “Safe Dates,” a school- and community-based adolescent abuse prevention program was studied to determine if the intervention helped to alleviate intimate partner violence.  School activities included a dramatic play, a 10-session curriculum, and a poster contest.  The community program included service-provider training and special services.  While intimate partner violence is widespread, little research, according to Foshee, has been conducted among teens.  This study hoped to fill in that gap in the literature.

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Gutiérrez and Lewis (2006) discuss a topic close to my heart and one that will be an aspect of my participatory action research in the future, community organizing in communities of color, especially with women and girls of color since societally they are the most oppressed and taken for granted and forgotten by the larger society of the United States. What is key here is what I will be faced with when I begin my community psychology “to help others help themselves” that I have to confront myself with every day:  my level of involvement as a white appearing man in a community of people of color, especially women of color without interfering, stepping on, or silencing their voices while attempting to empower them collectively and individually.

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Within the Universe, spiritually and otherwise, I see connections everywhere.  Nelson (2009) posits that that interconnectedness between psychology and religion has been especially dominant over the last century, but I would argue that it has been especially for millennia, though not categorized under any specific labels of Western Psychology, as is the case with Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Western Christianity or even Pagan Mysticism. In the article, religion is defined as a relationship to the Divine, that each of us know by one of several names, including the Universe within us All.

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Hays, R. A. (2007). Community activists’ perceptions of citizenship roles in an urban community: A case study of attitudes that affect community engagement. Journal of Urban Affairs, 29(4), 401-424

 

Introduction

Allen Hays (Hays, 2007) looks at the connections and barriers between community activism (community-based organizations) and political participation in a small urban community to determine how they are viewed by participants. He is particularly interested in the contrast in opinions of those participants that view each other’s activities as separate.  There is no common ground or opportunity for either to join the other’s activism or political participation.  Hays employs a qualitative case study of community and political activists’ attitudes in a small urban community in northern Iowa.  The study is based on Robert Putnam’s theoretical model that suggests a strong connection between local civic and political engagement and Nina Eliasoph’s model that suggests there are barriers between local civic and political participation.  Hays (2007) tested these models through a series of in depth interviews with the above cross-section of a community’s population actively involved in civic and political activities.  He explores perceived boundaries between the two areas to better understand those boundaries might be overcome in similar cities.

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I am grateful for many experiences and environments in my life, including the ethnic influence of my father, that allowed me to experience different cultures and be open with others that were different from my bicultural identity.  This influence, in many ways, brought me here to a place where I am curious about everything, with a growing sensitivity that forces me to be aware of cultural erasures, fighting for the under- and unrepresented by any means at my disposal.  At this point, by any means implies learning tools that allow me to help people help themselves and learn skills that allow them to empower themselves more effectively.  Those tools include my research within the unintentional propaganda of media with sexist themes that influences interpersonal relationships and small groups of young Black American women and girls.

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Rappaport (1998) reinforces a previous written critique I had in another course.  Researchers in community psychology as well as humanistic psychology are not there for themselves or to dictate a narrative, whether it is finding a means to evolve through a series of community problems or not.  Rappaport explains it as being, “useful to people who have limited access to resources” where researchers serve as amplifiers to those voices.  While I have thought about this at length, I hadn’t considered it as a subject of academic research.  I have considered it as something that is necessary to do within the context of research to help people help themselves and empower them as individuals and groups in their own communities.

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Hoffman (2012) waxes about as nostalgic as I did when I left the sociology department at the University of West GA for the humanistic psychology department that eventually guided my light to Saybrook.  Finding humanist psychology and intersectional feminist inclusiveness felt like home.  Multiculturalism is a powerful manifestation of that and a subject that may be vital to future research.  Here Hoffman makes note that his first experience at the Humanistic Psychology annual conference was one where he and his students didn’t encounter an ethnically diverse group of attendees, but mostly older White males.  This is telling in that Hoffman, a White male, seems to be as aware of his presence among diverse people of color as I am.  While I don’t consider myself a White male, but Italian.  I am white appearing and that is something I am very aware of every time I ask to contribute to conversations where I know am not affected directly.

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Introduction

I have lived in Georgia twice, once from 1994 in South Georgia in and around Savannah and again from 2010 to the present, in Atlanta, the capitol, and Columbus, a primarily industrial city of over 200,000 (United States Census Bureau, 2016). In that time, I have had an opportunity to contrast and compare the variety of communities and power structures. While Atlanta is metropolitan and Savannah is historical, Columbus primarily relies upon industry and a military base for employment.

While I have been here, I have observed that, while there are cultural institutions, a regional university, for example, it’s presence does not make Columbus a college town with the requisite cultural trappings. The university seems to serve industry, catering some programs to suit local industry, rather than the students’ career goals. Because I am extremely interested in musical cultures, or scenes as they are called, I queried a few people in Columbus and discovered that while there were music clubs and a record store or two at one time, those are no longer in existence.  But there is an underground music scene because there seems to be one in every city and town, and some have pooled their resources to open a new venue to support those local and regional bands who support the club with fans and patronage to keep the venue alive.  While there is some effort to transform the cultural scene in Columbus, the neighborhoods seem to be stuck in the past, though there are some distinct differences in Columbus from the neighborhoods in Atlanta as well as Savannah.

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Having studied qualitative methods in a previous course, grounded theory as Locke, et al (2010) describe it is familiar territory for me.  Before discovering asset-based community development (ABCD) and participatory action research (PAR), grounded theory was particularly intriguing because the research determined the theory, rather than the theory determining the research.  My familiarity with it is a little rusty so this review is helpful.  Additionally, I have never liked forcing round pegs into square holes, but I do love exploring and learning and this is ideal for that.  Grounded theory could work for my research question, “How are black teen girls’ and women’s unintentional propaganda within social media postings about cultural artifacts (e.g., clothing, music, fashion) effected by mass media that uses sexist themes and may be defined as propaganda of one form or another?” It may require a little more analysis than other methods I have considered in the past.  However; given that my aim is to understand the lived experiences of the participants, incorporating grounded theory into a PAR research study is not entirely illogical.  Both incorporate the voices of the participants, and both validate their experience.  Only PAR incorporates them and co-researchers.  In this case, the co-researchers, with their own experiences could contribute to the coding of information into meaningful units.

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Roe et al (2006) offer an intriguing commentary on community in this country and a unique counterpoint on how it should function.  The United States is seen as stereotypically individualistic, which is, unfortunately, a reality in a majority of this country, while AIDS is seen as an area where “effective prevention must be community-based, ecologically dispersed, locally relevant, adequately funded, responsive to change, and sustained over time.” Roe, et, al, 2006).  In ways that are economically as well as socially constructed, these realities had been generally met with unrealistic barriers until mandated by the CDC in communities across the country that utilized community planning initiatives that were remnants of 1960s through 1980s activism and planning initiatives.  The authors look at this initiative in depth, viewing it as a possible model to organize communities through similar social planning.  Key here is the inclusion of parity, inclusion, and social representation which allowed for what the authors call mobilizing of subcommittee organizing combined with empowering evaluation (taking stock, setting goals, developing strategies, and documenting the process and repeat where necessary).

While not exactly asset-based community development, the parameters of inclusion were mutable enough to allow equitable participation in community planning, allowing them to evaluate, correct and evolve as they progressed.  I see possibilities in this, allowing for applications to other areas of community development where flexibility is wise and necessary. For this initiative, diversity was necessary and key to reflect the makeup of the local community, but in the event that certain cities and groups were not interested in allowing that necessary diversity, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) mandated diversity, which could be viewed as intrusive by some and necessary to others.  The mandate recalls a community radio station in Texas where I volunteered briefly that began with the promise to reflect the makeup of the overall community, but in the end the staff, the board, and the radio show hosts were and are primarily White and Male.

As an anti-authoritarian, I bristle at even the suggestion of control, but with White Patriarchy and, especially, institutionalized racism, there are laws and beliefs on the books that privilege certain groups of individuals that those individuals don’t see.  If one is not affected, there is little that one is going to look for.  Men are not going to see the disadvantages thrust upon women daily through microagressions and will cry out that women are being too sensitive.  The same can be said for White Gay Men where they don’t consider the inclusion of Black and Latinx Gay Men as valid because they are not affected by racism and prejudice (in the same way).  Because of the historical precedence of the above, guidelines and rules are necessary, and in this case, they proved to be valid and effective.  This planning initiative can be used to apply to other programs that require groups within communities to work together effectively to solve an overarching issue. I also believe that planning elements can be incorporated into other methodologies designed to incorporate the individuals of a community into a evolutionary problem-solving group.

 

References:

Roe, K. M., Berenstein, C., Goette, C., & Roe, K. (2006). Community building through empowering evaluation: A case study of HIV prevention community planning. In M. Minkler (Ed.), Community organizing and community building for health (2nd ed., pp. 386-402). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

 

 

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While humanism is admirable and multiculturalism is admirable and ideal, Comas-Dias (2012) does not operationalize either term, relying instead on a commonly accepted definition without defining it.  Additionally, examples of what the author believes other cultures view as humanistic and multicultural are cited, but all without an operationalized definition.  This is obviously dangerous because anyone reading this or the article will have their own ideas of what it means to themselves.  If there was room to explain further here, a better justification could be made for intersectional feminism which could be viewed as humanistic and certainly is multicultural, but that is a discussion for another day.  Instead, the author waxes enthusiastic with a few references but does not explain their views in much detail.  The references citied, while discussing multiculturalism are secondary Western sources, rather than primary sources of the culture in question, which is suspect because those cultures are not necessarily viewing things through a patriarchal Western lens.

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Intelligence, defined strictly, is qualified as educational intelligence, but this is a definition I don’t necessarily accept.  From my father and a shelterless man named Uriel, whom I met decades ago, I learned clearly that education is not a sign of intelligence.  My father is an immigrant whose original language is not English and Uriel was completely illiterate. But beyond a dictionary definition, the referenced readings explore several types of intelligence, including emotional and cultural.

However, Brody (2000) does not explore those additional intelligences that we all possess.  Instead, intelligence quotients (IQ) are explored a little more in depth, but thankfully differences that affect it are explored.  General concepts of IQs are not questioned throughout the utilizing a description of averages throughout the population without acknowledging allowing for cultural differences amongst individuals.  Like many other articles I have read recently, I find this to be the unspoken bias of the author.  Additionally, Brody states that generational intelligence has increased, citing an example of a 20-year-old in 1900 and a 20-year-old in 1970, the latter having more intelligence than the former.  Again, I question what Brody (2000) is defining as intellectual intelligence that is never defined other than an IQ test standard.

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Kretzmann and McKnight (1993) cover all aspects of community building from individuals to associations to local institutions and taking those assets and rebuilding and mobilizing.  I may have reiterated this before, but while this book is powerful, it is large and not portable and there are no printable forms.  Since its printing in 1993, it has not been revised and it has not been released in a portable, e-book format, which is necessary for communities to facilitate many ideas in this valuable resource.

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For reasons of in depth analysis and to allow study participants their full voice, qualitative research and inquiry is where my heart, mind, and soul are, because, to me, people are more than mere numbers and statistics, though, in a very limited capacity, I can see where quantitative research may be useful when a certain population is difficult to reach for part of a research project.  Particularly, due to previous study and their potential to reveal more as well as engage participants more fully, grounded theory (where the critical areas of research are revealed in the data) and participatory action research (also known as action research to some) greatly appeal to me, even if more work is required in the long run.

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