Increasing Participation In Public Policy: One Route Towards Social Justice


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Increasing Participation In Public Policy: One Route Towards Social Justice

  1. 1. Increasing Participation in Public Policy: One Route Towards Social Justice Irma Serrano-Garc ía Eduardo A. Lugo Hernández University of Puerto Rico Paper presented at the SCRA Biennial Conference, June 18-21, 2009 Montclair State University, New Jersey, USA
  2. 2. Objectives <ul><li>Present a process geared towards increasing psychologists’ participation in public policy (PP) as a route to social justice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research as initial and continuous process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Within training programs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Within the Puerto Rico Psychology Association (PRPA) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In other settings - legislature; community groups; electoral process </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusions and future directions </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Spanish speaking Caribbean island </li></ul><ul><li>Colonial relationship with Spain and the </li></ul><ul><li>U.S.: has never been politically </li></ul><ul><li>independent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Economically dependent on USA </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social and economic problems </li></ul>The Context: Puerto Rico
  4. 4. Economic problems: In a nation of 4.0 million inhabitants: <ul><li>Unemployment at 11.5% and rising (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>48.2% under the poverty level </li></ul><ul><li>70% of industry controlled by foreign interests </li></ul><ul><li>5% of the people receive 25% of the national </li></ul><ul><li>income </li></ul>Social problems: In 2007 <ul><li>24.2% of high school students drop out </li></ul><ul><li>74,289 dependent on illegal drugs, 123,133 dependent </li></ul><ul><li>on alcohol </li></ul><ul><li>Violence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>acts in the schools 2,553 (2007) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>728 murders in 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>19,060 cases of child abuse in 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>17,239 cases of domestic violence </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Strengths <ul><li>Highly educated work force </li></ul><ul><li>Strong representative democracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High percentage of participation in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>electoral processes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Natural beauty – Tourism </li></ul><ul><li>National identity-despite colonialism </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural diversity and richness </li></ul>
  6. 6. The impetus for change persists in a country convinced that it deserves something better than its actual government. (Torrech,2009) <ul><li>Social justice </li></ul><ul><ul><li>individual and group entitlement to fair and equal rights and to partaking equally of social, educational, and economic opportunities and resources.  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To achieve social justice, people must actively participate. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Participation (S ánchez, 2000) <ul><li>Is action led by goals, interests, or needs to be pursued or satisfied </li></ul><ul><li>Entails control of the decision making processes </li></ul><ul><li>Is an inclusive process and a voluntary act </li></ul><ul><li>Public policy is one of various levels in which one can participate. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Social Justice Professionalism (Barlow, 2007; Burawoy,2007) <ul><li>Requires political imagination - the political practice of turning personal distress into public issues </li></ul><ul><li>Entails opposition and resistance to dominant social arrangements </li></ul><ul><li>Requires capacity to formulate, influence and implement policies. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Professionals can play an intermediary role </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide resources and valuable contacts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Become liaisons between communities and elites </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Psychologists’ Participation in PP <ul><li>Psychologists have been estranged from participation in public policy. </li></ul><ul><li>Because of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the disciplines’ focus on individual behavior and intervention, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the fragmentation of its knowledge, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>an emphasis on scientific neutrality, and </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>lack of training for those who want to participate (Serrano-Garc ía, 2008) . </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychological associations do not generally promote these efforts. APA, SPSSI and SCRA are notable exceptions. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Process in Puerto Rico : Background <ul><li>Participation of psychologists in PP in Puerto Rico has been infrequent and inconsistent. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1983 for APA Task Force study evidenced extremely limited participation (Serrano-Garc ía, 1983) </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly through the Puerto Rico Psychology Association (PRPA) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased activity from 1990 to present </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus has been on licensure and other guild issues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recently has begun to create alliances with other professional groups particularly related to mental health concerns (D íaz & Serrano-García, 2007) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Process in Puerto Rico: Initial and continuous research Three studies in 6 years <ul><li>Survey of licensed psychologists and evaluation of training programs </li></ul><ul><li>Legislators and aides perception of psychologists in PP </li></ul><ul><li>Community organizations perception of psychologists in PP </li></ul><ul><ul><li>78% participated in at least one phase of the PP process. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>59% thought their colleagues did not legitimize their participation. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recommended training and more involvement with legislators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislators/aides and NGO staff believed that psychologists can participate in all phases of the PP process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislators/aides were willing to work with and hire psychologists. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NGO staff recommended that psychologists increase their training in PP. </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Strategies <ul><li>Within Training Programs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meetings with Program Directors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation of research findings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promotion of CE certificate on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>psychology and PP </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of model syllabus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practicum course for Social- </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Psychology students </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Strategies: Within the PRPA Education Creation of the PP Committee Legislation
  14. 14. Within PRPA cont… <ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentations at Conventions and CE course offerings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PP column in the PRPA Bulletin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Legislation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of a directory of experts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote the development of public policy positions about socially relevant topics </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Identification of Socially Relevant Topics <ul><li>Male dominated education and roles </li></ul><ul><li>Discrimination and stigma </li></ul><ul><li>Poor access to quality mental health services. Fragmented and based on medical model </li></ul><ul><li>Criminalization of substance abuse </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation without evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Control by party politics </li></ul><ul><li>Gender perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Opposition to discrimination by sexual orientation </li></ul><ul><li>Integration of psychologists in primary healthcare settings </li></ul><ul><li>Substance abuse public health perspective </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation of public policies and programs </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on prevention </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge the role of political agendas </li></ul>Dominant perspective Challenges
  16. 16. Strategies - Other Settings <ul><li>Legislature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Testimonies and briefings before the legislature </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of fact sheets </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Electoral process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Participatory process lead to “Proposals without colors” (in Spanish, Propuestas sin colores ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mental Health, Education, and Violence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media Participation (eg. Press conferences, radio programs, newspaper columns) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Strategies cont. <ul><ul><li>Community groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Create alliances with other professional and NGO’s </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participation in the Community Conclave </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Prepare community mandate for government </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Participate in demonstration against government policies </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Conclusions <ul><li>Have we contributed to social justice? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our achievements are modest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If participation is a pre-requisite for social justice, we have increased the profession’s participation in PP and its public visibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We have developed a permanent infrastructure within the PRPA. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Conclusions <ul><ul><li>Opposition to some dominant ideologies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Within profession </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Within the political structure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Become liaisons between communities and the State. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop relationships and personal contacts with the media </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Inclusion of PP within psychology training </li></ul><ul><li>Complete the directory of experts </li></ul><ul><li>Solidify PRPA’s positions on specific social issues </li></ul><ul><li>Increase visibility at the legislature </li></ul><ul><li>Expand collaboration with community groups, alliances and other professional organizations </li></ul>Future Directions
  21. 21. Acknowledgements <ul><li>To all students and colleagues that participated in our research projects </li></ul><ul><li>To all members of the Committee on Psychology and Public Policy </li></ul><ul><li>To the PRPA Board </li></ul>
  22. 22. Contact Information <ul><li>Irma Serrano-García </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>787-789-2188 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Eduardo A. Lugo Hernández </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>787-764-0000 ext. 2956 </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. References <ul><li>Barlow, A. (2007). Transformative collaborations: Professionals and minority community power. In A. Barlow (Ed.) Collaborations for social justice: Professionals, public and policy change. (1-32). Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield. </li></ul><ul><li>Burawoy, M. (2007) Private troubles and public issues. In A. Barlow (Ed.) Collaborations for social justice: Professionals, public and policy change. (125-134). Lanham, MD: Rowan & Littlefield. </li></ul><ul><li>S ánchez, E. (2000). Todos con la “Esperanza”: Continuidad de la participación comunitaria. Caracas, venezuela: Universidad Central. </li></ul><ul><li>Serrano-García, I. (2008, march) Psychology and public policy: A call to action. Invited address at CUNY. </li></ul><ul><li>Serrano-Garc ía , I., C héve re, K., Cabrera, M., Lugo, E. Canales, M & Vigo, M.(2008). Psicolog ía y legislatura: Relaci ón prometedora. Revista de Ciencias Sociales, 19 , 70-99. </li></ul><ul><li>Serrano-Garc ía , I. (2005) (Invited editor) Psicolog ía y pol ít ica p úbli ca: 20 a ños despu és . Special Section of the Revista Puertorrique ña d e Psicolog ía , 16 , 149-297. </li></ul><ul><li>Task Force on Psychology and Public Policy. (1986). Psychology and public policy. American Psychologist, 41 (8), 914-921. </li></ul><ul><li>Torrech, R. (2009. January 8) La fuerza es el cambio. El Nuevo D ía . P. 45. </li></ul>