Fight, Flight, or Remain Silent? Juggling Multiple Accountabilities throughout the Formative Stage of a Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative

Stacey M. Kesten, Deborah A. Perez, Denise S. Marques, Scot Evans, Adrienne Sulma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This paper describes the experiences of a research team as they navigated uncertain ethical and political terrain throughout the formative stage of a public housing redevelopment project. Specifically, we discuss the challenges related to balancing multiple accountabilities and the tensions among the various roles and responsibilities that emanated from different accountabilities. Due to contractual obligations to our funding source, established relations with community partners, and an ethical imperative to align with those holding the least power, we grappled with embodying multiple and often conflicting roles. Without oversight provided by our university institutional review board or a clear ethical framework for community psychology research and action, our team was left to negotiate the challenges that emerged through critical reflection and financial considerations. Throughout the case example presented in this paper, we highlight our difficulty in ethical decision-making with respect to the principles of obligation, disclosure, consent, commitment, and professionalism. Community psychologists often straddle the realms of academia, community partnerships, and conscious engagement with little guidance in navigating often conflicting roles and value systems. We present our narrative to highlight the complexity of scholar-activism in the context of community psychology and the necessity for developing ethical standards and guidelines tailored to meet the unique needs of community psychologists.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-458
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Community Psychology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017



  • Community psychology
  • Ethics
  • Multiple accountabilities
  • Neighborhood revitalization
  • Scholar-activism
  • Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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