College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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community psychology, racial and ethnic diversity, gender and sexual orientation, disability, research methodology


This study aims to assess the historical inclusion of diversity within community psychology. While community psychology has long held greater inclusion of diversity and the promotion of marginalized and disenfranchised peoples as goals of the field, many have questioned its ability live up to this aspiration. This study examines the extent to which community psychology has included diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and identity, and disability in its primary academic journals, the American Journal of Community Psychology (AJCP) and the Journal of Community Psychology (JCP). The sample size of this study was designed to capture as broad a sample of the community psychology literature as possible. To achieve this goal each article of AJCP and JCP from 1975 to 2005 was coded by a group of coders familiar with community psychology for the population served. Coding was conducted using an emergent coding scheme in which coders recorded each article’s population in the specific language used by the article. Coding yielded adequate inter-rater reliability with Kappa scores ranging from 85.73% to 91.66% over 3 time points across the coding period. Additionally, a member check yielded an 87% percent agreement with generated codes by 28 authors whose studies were coded as part of the study. Results indicated that a significant portion of community psychology articles have historically included diversity. Inclusion varied drastically between both domains of diversity and individual populations. Race, gender, and psycho-emotional disability were by far the most commonly included areas of diversity. Sexual orientation and disabilities other than psycho-emotional disabilities (physical, cognitive/developmental, and sensory) made up comparatively small proportions of the community psychology literature. Inter-domain inclusion differences were not limited to the disabilities domain. Amongst racial and ethnic groups, African American and Latino articles far outnumbered articles including Asian American, Native American, or Caucasian individuals. While this disparity had lessened over the course of the studies scope for Asian Americans, little change was seen for other racial and ethnic groups. Articles including gender grew in inclusion over the time period of the study, however that growth was primarily in articles focusing on women, the rate of which far outweighed that of men. Sexual orientation though still small had increased significantly over the course of the study. While sexual orientation made up a relatively small percentage of articles, disparities in within group populations were noticeable. The vast majority of articles in this domain focused on gay or bisexual men. Very few articles focused specifically on lesbian women or transgender individuals. Amongst developmental, physical, and sensory disabilities the majority of articles included one of the above areas in general as opposed to focusing on a more specific population. Sensory disabilities were particularly rare in articles within the studies scope. Articles addressing one or more domain of diversity made up a relatively small proportion of articles, but showed remarkable growth over the course of the study’s scope. Unsurprisingly the most common intersections found in the literature mirrored the areas most commonly found in the literature independently of one another. The intersections of race and gender, race and psycho-emotional disabilities, and gender and psycho-emotional disabilities accounted for the bulk of articles including two or more domains of diversity. As community psychology has matured as a field it has extended the scope of populations which it studies, and several areas and intersections of diversity have grown in their inclusion over the course of the study’s scope. This is allows the field to develop a more holistic understanding of these domains, one that includes diversity in the context of people’s lives rather than in a static, singular context.