Reflections on Doing
Phronetic Social Science
A Case Study
Corey S. Shdaimah and Roland W. Stahl
In 2003, the Women's Community Revitalization Project (WCRP), a community-based organization in Philadelphia, received a grant from the William Penn Foundation to study and advocate around home repair and home maintenance issues of concern to low-income homeowners. WCRP used these funds to augment its advocacy efforts in Philadelphia. In accordance with the terms of the grant, WCRP solicited proposals from researchers at academic institutions to study the home maintenance and repair problems of low-income homeowners in the city. The authors of this chapter were part of the three-person academic research team chosen by WCRP.
The goal of the study was to develop a solid understanding of the home repair and home maintenance needs of low-income homeowners, including the root causes of these needs, to establish which city programs were ostensibly designed to meet these needs, to assess whether in fact they did meet these needs, and to estimate what programs or resources would be necessary to meet those needs that currently go unmet. The multimethod study relied on a combination of statistical analysis, an extensive review of program literature, and in-depth interviews with policymakers, administrators, advocates, and homeowners.
In this chapter, we use the collaboration between WCRP and the academic research team as an example of “phronetic research” as defined by Bent Flyvbjerg (2001) in Making Social Science Matter (MSSM). Our analysis shares Flyvbjerg's assumption that making social science matter is a