Social Change and Urban Rebellion

Social change and urban rebellion

What is social change research and what are the different forms of social change research? How can we use social change research in our and others daily lives to make improvements? One of the topics that I found very interesting is the effect of social change research in the “Ghetto”. What does the word ghetto means? How can we use social change research to help individuals, mainly youths who reside in the ghetto to have better lives and a possible better future?

Social change research comes in several different forms, but the general idea is that the researchers are actively changing something in a social situation that they are a part of. There is Participatory research which is when the researchers are a part of the community and they get involved to learn things about the community that they live in. A good example of such research would be an individual who lives in the ghetto and is constantly tries to bring changes in the ghetto to better the lives of its residents. The second kind of social change research would be Activist research which goes beyond participatory research. The researcher is not only vested in the outcome of the research, but may be pushing a certain value set through their research (Nelson A., 2017).

Social research is a critical foundation for programs that seek to engage communities in change and in the development of more sustainable societies. Without appropriate research, programs aimed at change are likely to be based on implicit or assumed problem identification and or inferred community needs and wishes. I Personally don’t like to use the word ghetto. The term “ghetto” dates to describing the neighborhoods to which Jewish Europeans were confined. More recently, it’s been used in the U.S. to describe urban neighborhoods where minority groups live out of economic pressures (Izadi E., 2011).

To bring change in the less fortunate areas of the city, the residents of that community need to act and figure out what can they do to better their lives and the lives of the people in their community. This would be a perfect example of participatory research. For example, the leaders of the said communities can with the help of parents, educate the youth and provide them with options to do volunteer work after school. Living in a ghetto gives its inhabitants a certain community feeling, a certain sense of comfort and familiarity that they would find hard to get anywhere. Personal sense of comfort, community and normalcy matter much more to an individual when they do not possess economic comfort (Bandyopadhyay K., 2015).

I believe the best social change research method that would be effective in the said areas, would be the participatory research which is research conducted by the residence of that community. The researcher would understand the issues within that community better than anyone else and would be able to design and implement a plan to bring change within that community. Moving from a ghetto is not as easy as just packing up and moving out. People often get caught in the cycle of poverty. Therefore, getting the education and other life skills to move them out of that cycle can be very difficult, however it is possible with the help of the leaders of the community and by providing opportunities to those in need.


Bandyopadhyay K., Quora, (2015, May 9). Why do People Stay in the Ghetto When They Can Move Elsewhere? Retrieved April 15, 2017, from

Izadi E., DCentric, (2011, May 11). Ghetto: Five Reasons to Rethink the Word. Retrieved April 15, 2017, from

Nelson, A. (2017). Lesson 13. Applied social psychology: Social Change / Participatory Research. Presented on the PSYCH 424 course content site lecture at the Pennsylvania State University.

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1 comment

  1. I think your idea about community leaders conducting participatory research is a great one, since it would be difficult to truly understand poverty and other struggles without having experienced them personally. In the absence of willing community organizers, participatory research could also effectively address some social issues in those communities. This quote by Paulo Freire explains it well: “In doing research, I am educating and being educated with the people” (1982, p. 30, as cited by Brydon-Miller, 1997). While it is true that a participatory researcher may not get the full experience, they can learn a lot from community members that they interact with. It is also possible that such an impoverished community may not have members with enough education or funding to implement the programs that you have mentioned.
    Participatory action research involves addressing specific concerns as well as obtaining knowledge of the community and its circumstances (Brydon-Miller, 1997). In order to know what specifically needs to be addressed, a researcher will have to interact with community members as part of their research. Perhaps an intervention could begin with participatory action but could evolve into a community effort if a researcher is able to recruit residents to help with creating change. Brydon-Miller suggests that participatory action researchers and community members design programs together to properly address social problems, so your proposed situation is definitely ideal. Also mentioned is the positive side effect of empowering those minority communities that are currently being oppressed. This could result in future programs being implemented by community members without outside influence!

    Brydon‐Miller, M. (1997). Participatory action research: Psychology and social change. Journal of Social Issues, 53(4), 657-666.

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