Exploring professional orientations to community voice in professional practice settings: The IMAP process

Karen Jaynes Williams, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The tension between technical experts and the populations they seek to serve is well established in the literature examining professional social problem solving. In this piece, I examine this tension as one between the distinct discursive worlds of technical expertise and community voice. I develop an analytic process, IMAP, for exploring this tension by looking at a wide variety of professional orientations around a relatively fixed concept of community voice. IMAP involves Identifying social problem solvers, Mapping social problem solvers' claims, Analyzing professional orientations that arise from this mapping, and Predicting, diagnosing, and remediating conflicts. IMAP can be used by analysts external to social problem solving settings or by social problem solvers themselves. The use of IMAP by external experts poses questions of expert alignment with either of the discursive worlds. I examine two cases in public health practice settings: a mobile immunization service and the efforts of a foundation to improve health in an inner-city neighborhood. I develop four modal types that can be anticipated in social problem solving settings or, more specifically, in public health practice. Understanding of these “world views” can enhance mutual understanding between public health professionals and between public health professionals and the communities they seek to serve. IMAP might also address ongoing conflicts to clarify differences in unspoken normative commitments and the impact of these on social problem solving. I discuss implications of the research for public health practice and further research in the area.

Subject Area

Public health|Sociology|Political science

Recommended Citation

Williams, Karen Jaynes, "Exploring professional orientations to community voice in professional practice settings: The IMAP process" (2002). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3131263.