Terah J. Stewart shows research does not have to be impersonal
In ARJ article “I don’t feel studied” – now open without pay wall – action researcher Terah J. Stewart shows that research does not have to be alienating or impersonal. In fact, it can be a healing and humanizing process for the people and communities centered in action research efforts. Terah explains his ART with college sex workers:
“In my article “I don’t feel studied”: Reflections on Power-Consciousness in Action Research with College Student Sex Workers” I share how I and student collaborators achieved a research experience where they were true partners in the research project through our development of power-conscious collaborative research.
As sex workers, the students can at times occupy a vulnerable position and may not be confident that research engages them in ways that honor their agency and humanity. Further because many research projects focus on sex workers with dominant identities (White & heterosexual women) I was interested in understanding how sex workers with minoritized identities (racially minoritized and sexually minoritized) experience their sex working. Finally, because of associated stigma with sex work, and because some sex workers may be precluded from engaging with others – for example if they have criminal records – we had to imagine ways to engage each other that promoted their safety, privacy, and well-being.
Through our project we wrestled with the notion of power and identity in Action Research, which means we explored how people with differing identities and social locations can be given the most agency, freedom, and partnership in the research process. On this article, ARJ editors wrote: “Your work with developing Power-Conscious Collaborative Research while working with college sex workers provides a critical reflection on how PAR as practice and theory can be extended to engage with silenced populations. In the journal’s journey towards more transformation oriented AR your contribution is timely.”
We invite ARTists, researchers, participants, and enthusiasts to read the article and engage around the critical and exciting questions it raises.
*The article may also be found at this link: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/14767503211023127. *Thank you to photographer Clay Banks for making this image available for free use on unsplash.com.