Fitzgerald Scott Anthropology 6448 Collaborative Community Research June 14, 2010 Reflection Paper Preparing for community Research

in Sulphuer Springs

Participating in a service learning course in the Sulphuer Springs area of Tampa, Fl will require some ability to make connections between neoliberalist policy and issues associated with the problems in the community. Using the literature to make these connections is helpful for discerning the next course of action and identifying issues associated with research in marginalized communities. If the researcher will adhere to these lessons, the community should ultimately be empowered. The work of Fox Piven (2001) can be used to identify problems associated with labor market deterioration and neoliberalist influence on changes in welfare reform. According to Piven (2001), as states moved to reduce Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and increase penalties, more people lost benefits. One effect on the job market from the loss of assistance is the decrease in wages for people in the job market especially women(Piven 2001). A second warning about reducing welfare benefits to the marginalized should be considered when making connections between neoliberalist policy changes and the Sulphuer Spring community. As people stop receiving benefits (willingly or un-willingly), they will enter the job market (Piven 2001). Employers have the option to replace workers in unskilled positions with other unskilled workers for less pay (Piven 2001). There is a deeper problem. TANF provides employers with cheap labor. In Piven s (2001) Baltimore janitor example, janitors making $6.00 an hour were replaced by workfare recipients for $1.50 an hour. The people affected by these types of policy changes live in Sulphuer Springs and researchers should be aware that these are the circumstances of the people they will engage.

In Sulphuer Springs, one of the major issues we face with the community is the increase in the park and recreation fees. If we reference the above information provided by Piven and other researchers, we can understand how increased spending on a community suffering from negative impacts of neoliberalist policy can be undesirable for the residents. Even though the fees were the focus of community frustration, the real issue was the use of public space. Smith (2002) and Jurik (2004) provided information about privatization of public centers we can use to make connections between neoliberalist views of public space and community discourse. Using historical references, Smith (2002) stressed the importance of the community center as a necessary part of democracy, harmony and cooperation in the slum life of immigrant communities. In Sulphuer Springs, the fee increase resulted in the loss of constituents who used the center and therefore no longer have access to the democratic process and cooperation so deeply needed in this community. We can use the work of Nancy Jurik to make the connection between the community center, the community and neoliberalist ideals. Jurik s (2004) assessment of the privatization of public space explains the changes to market based models by public organizations. According to Jurik, some public organizations are engaged in restructuring practices to fit a market model (Jurik 2004). In the case of the Sulphuer Springs recreation center, problems with the city budget are used as an excuse to increase the fees. This cost effective stance is identified by Piven as one of the key components to look for when trying to identify this privatization style of reorganizing by public organizations. Loss of middle management power, audit and competition for contracts are also identified by Piven as key components in these kinds of changes (Piven 2004). All of these components appear in one form or another in the Sulphuer Springs fee issue. Several suggestions about community engaged research in marginalized communities should be reviewed when considering engaged style community research. Maskovsky (2001) suggested that

researchers involved in poverty research should not focus on policy change but instead promote social change. Researchers should challenge labor market structure, challenge ideology that puts the blame on the poor and work to limit devolution and policy beaurocracy (Maskovsky 2001). Researchers should also be aware of the some of the criticisms associated with anthropological research. Weston (2005) introduced the work of Dinesh D Souza as a literal example of the criticisms anthropologist face in the field. One of D Souza s main arguments is that the poor are not really that bad off (Weston 2005). Even with a clear argument from Weston (2005) that proves D Souza s arguments are lined with cultural relativity issues, researchers should be aware that ideas and ideology exist in the main stream and we as researchers are subject to attacks such as these. Finally, researchers must learn the lessons from other institutions about relationships. According to Hyatt, Temple University and the nearby African American community has a cantankerous relationship. Instead of working to discredit the community whereby helping the University gain ground, Hyatt s course and experience insist on activist research. Bringing attention to the issue and learning about the community from the community is recommended. In the long run, I think this approach eases the tension between the university and the community or at least empowered the community to a certain degree. As researchers who participate in engaged research, the barriers and hurdles are infinite. The suggestions by the above mentioned authors provide some very necessary information we can use to avoid these obstacles and produce useful literature without losing time stumbling our way around some ones community. Knowing the people you are working with is a resounding theme and making connections to the neoliberalist influence is the marker for understanding the people we work with. For our course, making these connections were vital without which we would still be stumbling around the community looking for the problem.