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Girls in the World

Digital Storytelling as a Feminist Public Health Approach

Aline C. Gubrium and Gloria T. Difulvio

Strategies designed to address community health needs, and those of disadvantaged girls in particular, are more likely to be successful in supporting health and wellbeing if a humanistic perspective is taken. A humanistic health perspective should consider broader participant concerns, including those that are socially informed. A feminist perspective on knowledge production and a corresponding narrative approach—digital storytelling—has the potential for doing so in the field of community health and in social research efforts. We begin by reviewing a feminist perspective on knowledge development and present digital storytelling as an approach undergirded by this perspective. We then present examples of two digital stories produced by adolescent girls during a pilot community-based participatory project called A Girl in the World which focused on what it actually means to be girls in the world, and conclude that digital storytelling has the potential to provide a more holistic research platform for investigating girls' health.

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Sisphyean Struggles

Encounters and Interactions within Two US Public Housing Programs

Erika Gubrium, Sabina Dhakal, Laura Sylvester and Aline Gubrium

We operationalize the concepts of rights, discretion, and negotiation in service provision at two public housing sites, exploring their connections to the generation of shame or dignity building for residents. Using data from in-depth interviews with housing residents and caseworkers, we found that resident rights were limited by a decentralized system that actively prevented them from taking control of their lives. Residents frequently experienced caseworker discretion as personally intrusive, yet there was some, if limited, space for negotiation between caseworkers offering personalized care and residents evaluated as worthy of such focus. These interactions offered the potential for enhanced recognition and dignity.