1. Activist-research approaches to crises: sharing knowledge on ethical and methodological challenges, strategies and practices

Convenors: Camilla Marucco, University of Turku, Dept. of Geography and Geology; Leonardo Custódio, Åbo Akademi University.

Contact: cammar (at) utu.fi, leonardo.custodio (at) abo.fi

Friday 3.12.2021 at 12.30-14.30

Crisis seems to be an omnipresent reality in the current world, from climate change to health, from migrations to national and international politics and economy. The word itself originated from the ancient Greek “krisis”, meaning “turning point in a disease, that change which indicates recovery or death”, but also “judgment, result of a trial, selection” (Online Etymology Dictionary). As such, a crisis contains in itself decision-making and a range of possible futures, both of which are recurrent elements in various academic practices. A crisis may be studied; also, crises as turning points requiring decisions characterise people’s paths in academia at all career stages.

In this panel, we invite participants to share ideas for example, but not only, linked to the following questions:

  • If in your work you faced something that could be fruitfully understood as crisis, how did you cope with it in ethical, methodological and practical terms?

  • What does framing the phenomena we engage with through research and activism as "crisis" imply, for ex. in terms of power relations, interpretations and discourses?

  • When it comes to problematisation throughout research processes, what agencies, positions and relations are available, silenced or amplified? How can these be transformed, when needed?

  • What are the roles and possibilities of research and/or activism before, during and after crises?

  • What are the boundaries, if any, between research, activism and other practices and how to combine them in an ethical, scientifically rigorous and overall sustainable way?

We welcome students, researchers and practitioners from different disciplines, nationalities, genders, ethnicities and career stages who have embraced an “activist-research” approach. Activist research is designing and conducting research in open ways not only to grasp the reasons behind crises and injustice, but also to strategically and collaboratively contribute to struggles against them (Hale, 2001). The workshop also aims at helping participants from different disciplines to network and share knowledge on how to deal with complicated questions in activist research. The workshop is coordinated by the Activist Research Network, bringing people together in these issues since 2017. For more information, please access https://mailman.abo.fi/mailman/listinfo/activist-research-network.

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Presentation order and abstracts:

  1. Principles, Rights, and Obligations: In enabling state-public-private organizations' public value governance for a work promotion in the post-COVID pandemic era.

Eddy Bruno Esien (Charles University in Prague)

This study examines principles, rights, and obligations under enabling state-public-private organization’s public value governance to understand the third-country national employment-related transition to work in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era. Existing research pointed to a new public value approach, which emphasizes the principles on which governments and policies should be based on the common good, but neither the market nor the state in the governance provides the necessary outputs and conditions to achieve an effective implementation process. Analysing the principles, rights, and obligations under enabling state-public-private organization’s public value model to enable third-country nationals work promotion in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era is the key to interpret the phenomenon in Austria, Finland, and the Czech Republic. Based on qualitative cross-country comparative research, documents, published and unpublished scholastic texts are collected and analysed by a document and thematic content analysis technique. The findings show that the principles of government policy determinants, targeted rights of citizen’s access and entitlement to benefits, and corporate obligations are a major perceived influence in enabling state-public-private organization’s public value governance with lack of transparency and market failure that may impair state-community effective value system to the common good when looking at issues such as the employment-related transition of third-county nationals in post-COVID-19 pandemic era work promotion setting. The study demonstrated a certain targeted network governance similarity but dissimilarities from the country’s institutional context. The outcome points to post-bureaucratic and post-competitive thinking in a contemporary pandemic crisis-affected society, which allows the movement beyond the narrow market versus government failure approaches. This reflects a new public administration managerial device to the common good, but the risk to market failure, inefficiencies, transparency and accountability, and targeting vulnerable people’s needs and/or rights for paid work in the complex policy implementation process may not only constraint’s ethnic minorities’ access to benefits and upward labour market mobility but impair the economy, a cohesive process, ethical standards, and impair open democracy in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era..

The work on this article has been supported by the Charles Univ Specific Academic Research

  1. Social work research conversations on social memory and futurity in the crisis of late neoliberalism

Kris Clarke (University of Helsinki)

Crisis is the raison d'être of social work. When families fall apart, mental health provides challenges or grief upends life situations, social workers are there to direct resources and support. Emerging with modern industrial capitalism, the profession of social work addressed the disconnect between mass social disruption and new alienating economic systems. Embedded in systems of care shaped by coloniality, the ethical code of social work nonetheless calls for social workers to dismantle systems of oppression. There have been many critiques of the impact of neoliberal policies on social work practice, which have often constructed social work as an instrumental rather than relational profession. In recent years, there have also been more probing explorations of the role of social work in historical injustices like collaborating with authorities in deporting Japanese-Americans to concentration camps during World War 2 and enforcing disproportional child protection practices.

Our contemporary era is marked by the crises of climate change, welfare state viability and vastly growing inequality. Imagining social work futurities has been rooted in research conversations around the legacy of colonialism in social work practice through historic case studies. This paper explores ways that social work research links activism with social memory and futurity by challenging how the field constructs professionalism, evidence and competency.

  1. What can I do? Possibilities and impact of activist research in Finnish asylum issues

Camilla Marucco (University of Turku)

Through this presentation, I wish to discuss with the session participants the possibilities and impact of research in relation to the current issues of asylum and deportation in Finland. I approach the topic from the position of a doctoral candidate in human geography exploring the everyday life and agency of people with a refugee background in Turku and doing activism for a fairer asylum policy in Finland with the We See You association. In the course of my PhD, I have been facing a crisis about the boundaries between academic research and activism and how, where and when these two practices can make an impact in terms of making Finnish asylum policies more humane and just. Sometimes, I feel that, through activism (which relies on research by myself and others), I can aim for a more immediate impact than through academic research alone. With a view to collectively discuss the possibilities and impact of academic research practice, in my presentation I first open up my understanding of research, activism and impact with regard to the Finnish asylum policy. In doing this, I draw on my own experiences as well as on the work of critical and feminist geographers and more broadly of researchers engaged in asylum issues. In general, how, in what spaces and times can the Finnish asylum policy be made more humane and just? How can research, activism and impact be understood in relation to asylum issues? What are the times, spaces and impact possibilities of research and activism in asylum issues? What are the implications for researchers? While I draw largely on geographical research, I hope to join and advance the conversation around these questions in a multidisciplinary way.