Resisting Bureaucracies: Reflections on Community Engagement and Digital Technology

Rachel Kuo

SSRC Just Tech

(In)Equity, Digital Infrastructures

Activism, Decoloniality, Knowledge-Production

This essay outlines some challenges and recommendations for researchers within academic institutions and research centers conducting community-based research in digital environments. Community-based research is a participatory process that brings together members of a self-defined community and/or representative organization to coproduce a research design and process, mutually share expertise, and cocreate useful outcomes and tools. In addition to community organizing using different digital tools (e.g., social media and crowdfunding platforms), research collaboration also relies on digital applications, including video conferencing, group communication and messaging platforms, email, and cloud storage systems.

The recommendations presented here reflect the ways that individual researchers may often move between and work across different political collectives and groups and participate politically beyond their institutional affiliation. These lessons emerge primarily from working in collaboration with small independent political groups, organizations, and collectives, such as mutual aid networks and worker collectives and cooperatives.