A Wrinkle in Time: Tracing a Legacy of Public Science through Community Self-Surveys and Participatory Action Research


  • Special thanks to Fran Cherry, Alexandra Rutherford, Rhoda Unger and Caitlin Cahill for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to María Elena Torre, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016 [e-mail: mtorre@publicscienceproject.org].


Community self-surveys, popularized by Margot Haas Wormser and Claire Selltiz in the 1950s, brought together diverse community groups to examine racial injustice in their local contexts. A precursor to contemporary participatory action research, the self survey method provides evidence ofSPSSI's long history of “engaged scholarship.” In this article, we resurrect this history and connect it to contemporary research in critical psychology that shares commitments to participation, methodological complexity, expanded notions of “expertise,” as well as social and political relevance.