Wednesday, September 4, 2013

thoughts on how research happens

Paradigm and paradigm change are integral in research. In my Methods of Research bibliography is an Open Society Institute video on their drug policy advocacy around the world. 

As ever one's  personal experience is just that, one's personal experience.  Most of my interest in drug policy has been in terms of clinical social work since 1982 with clients having substance abuse concerns. Caregiving as presented in the work of Ann Burack-Weiss has so informed my practice. I routinely refer to mindfulness as per Buddhist thought.

Policy is another lens. In my experience, luck has had it that I have known several drug policy advocates who are also tied to the Open Society. The first is a Swiss legislator who I visited in Zurich in the early 1990s and was then involved in the work presented in the Open Society video. I also observed the experiment to allow drug use in a Zurich park. My trips were in the time of my doctoral study in cross-national social policy, and I visited social work programs in Berlin and Rotterdam. 

Secondly, I have known the strategic planner for Open Society programs throughout the world and heard about initiatives since the 1990s. Third, I have done recent consulting with a drug policy organizer in San Francisco whose program is funded by the Open Society.

The work of these advocates as well as my lens as a social worker qua researcher are examples of how research can and does happen, and is utilized. The Zurich project initiated as action research  for real life social welfare activity and is presented as a case study video (case study is a method of intense focus on a case, group, community,  program or policy).  My friend at Open Society has put together resources around the world about drug policy, i.e, meta=research. The San Francisco activity is  case study and action research: the process of needs assessment and implementing solutions with real time evaluation feedback.

Thinking from the lens of Kuhn, paradigm shifts. Drug policy is changing as data analysis shows best practices from real life activity. There are many ways of knowing. 

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