Documenting Sociopolitical Development via Participatory Action Research (PAR) With Women of Color Student Activists in the Neoliberal University


  • Jesica Siham Fernández
  • Jasmyne Y. Gaston
  • Madeline Nguyen
  • Jaia Rovaris
  • Rhyann L. Robinson
  • Danielle N. Aguilar


Political activism attests to the sociopolitical development and agency of young people. Yet the literature sparingly engages the intersectional subjectivities that inform the sociopolitical development of young people, especially women of color. Important questions remain in the theorizing of sociopolitical development among youth engaged in political activism within higher education settings. Thus, we focus on the following question: What experiences informed or catalyzed the sociopolitical development of women of color student activists within a racialized neoliberal university in the United States? In addressing this question we demonstrate how student-led participatory action research (PAR) within the neoliberal university can facilitate and support sociopolitical development. Of most value, this paper demonstrates how PAR can be used as a tool to support the intersectional sociopolitical development of student activists organizing within racialized neoliberal settings of higher education that threaten the academic thriving and overall wellbeing of students of color, specifically women of color. Sociopolitical development theorizing must engage elements of relational healing as a dimension of wellbeing. Therefore, our work contributes to these conversations by centering the experiences of women of color student activists.