American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
January-March 2019

ASA Awards Three New Community Action Research Initiative Grants

ASA is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2018 Community Action Research Initiative (CARI) grant awards. These sociologists bring social science knowledge, methods, and expertise to address community-identified issues and concerns. Each CARI recipient has proposed pro bono work partnering with a community organization. The three principal investigators are listed below, along with a brief description of their funded proposals.

Anjuli Fahlberg, Tufts University, for The Social Costs of Urban Violence: A Community-Based Research Collaborative in Rio de Janeiro’s Most Dangerous Favela

The goal of this project is to disseminate the findings of a community-led survey project titled “Building Together” (Construindo Juntos), launched in 2017, which documented the social costs of public insecurity on favela residents in Rio de Janeiro. The survey was administered in the City of God, a favela (low-income urban area) of 60,000 people where local drug lords and military police compete for territorial control. The project’s main aims: 1) To deepen the public’s understanding about the effects of urban violence on favelas by accounting for the social costs of armed conflict, such as regular school closures, mental health issues, missed work due to bus cancellations, and neglected infrastructure; 2) To provide activists working in and on behalf of favelas with statistical data they need to make explicit demands for better public security policies and increased government investments in social development and infrastructure; and 3) To provide researchers of urban violence in and beyond Rio de Janeiro with a model for collaborative research that can be employed in other favelas. This project will inform debates on Brazil’s public security policies, promote the leadership of favela residents in producing and disseminating sociological knowledge, and deepen understanding of the social costs of urban violence. 

Kimberly Huyser, University of New Mexico, for Building Data Literacy and Research Capacity to Identify the American Indian and Alaska Native Elder Population and Their Needs

The goal of this project is to build the data literacy and social research capacity of the National Indian Council on Aging (NICOA). It will equip NICOA with the ability to use its own data or existing federal data to advocate for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) elders and for aging policy. The goal of building the social research capacity of NICOA will be met through a series of workshops with NICOA staff, with two primary goals—to familiarize NICOA staff and board with data and statistics and to build research design skills. Given the diversity within AI/AN peoples, it is important that AI/AN communities and organizations are active in the creation of knowledge (e.g., how and who data collected and ensuring the AI/AN peoples are represented in studies and reports). It is also important that they are active in identifying the unique needs of AI/AN peoples using their own data and existing data. Building research capacity using sociology-based research methods will empower NICOA to influence the ways in which data are collected on AI/AN elders and also provide accountability to federal and local agencies. According to Huyser, the CARI grant “will also allow us to increase access to research skills and lexicon among AI/AN people themselves so that they have increased opportunity to participate in research and knowledge creation occurring in their communities.”

Erica Morrell, Middlebury College, for Environmental Contamination and Lactation (ECL) Project

Since the Flint water crisis, incidences of lead-contaminated drinking water are coming to light in numerous American cities. This includes Milwaukee, where health officials have provided no guidelines on whether women who have consumed lead-contaminated drinking water should cease breastfeeding and/or what families should do if they are preparing bottles of infant formula. The goal of this project is to empower at-risk communities in achieving safe infant feeding during lead-contaminated drinking water crises. Morrell is partnering with the African American Breastfeeding Network to launch the current phase of the Environmental Contamination and Lactation (ECL) project in Milwaukee, where the Network has been running community projects for over 10 years. The ECL includes five main steps: 1) Survey low-income, African American pregnant, breastfeeding, and formula-feeding families on their current knowledge and desire to learn about lead-contaminated drinking water and young childhood feeding; 2) Use survey results to help develop a culturally appropriate educational tool for safe childhood feeding; 3) Train community health workers to implement this educational tool; 4) Assist community health workers to implement this educational tool; and 5) Assess the educational tool’s efficacy. “With the grant, we are better equipped to underscore the important link between water and infant food systems, and to uplift community work on these issues to advance justice throughout Milwaukee and beyond,” said Morrell.