AIDS Prevention and Services: Community Based Research

By Johannes P. Van Vugt | Go to book overview

Epilogue

The researchers who have contributed to this volume have a personal history of community involvement. As such they are less inhabitants of ivory towers and practitioners of Big Science as they are practitioners of community based science.1 Indeed, the problem of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and the diverse communities in which it needs to be addressed necessitates community based research and community based organizations as a response. Learning skills of social interaction and shifting community norms require intimate community involvement. This does not make our research any the less scientific or "objective." Nor does it make our findings anecdotal, our method less rigorous, or our theory weak.

The validity of community based research lies in the experience of the community. Rev. Margaret Reinfeld argues rightly, that community based research is ultimately responsible to the community investigated, and herein lies our "objectivity." The new community of verification is the community studied. Objective is not the correct word to use here, as we realize that the paradigm of "objectivity" was a creation of the scientific academic community--a community of approval reified, historically in monasteries, currently in universities. Responsible or accountable and the question they raise, to whom?, more accurately portray the shift in paradigms. The scientific community can welcome the response that community based research gives to the crisis in the philosophy of science brought on by the "loss" of objectivity. Community based research does not pretend to political neutrality, realizing that all science, all research, and all scientists are political in that they cannot escape their social context ( Bourdieu 1977; Freire 1985).

Community based research offers an answer to the critique of social science for the latter's failure to deliver social "progress" to the masses in the last half of the twentieth century. The mystifying jargon--"postmod-

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