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Revolutions in Development Inquiry

Revolutions in Development Inquiry

by Robert Chambers

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ISBN-10: 1844076253

ISBN-13: 9781844076253

Pub. Date: 10/28/2008

Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Robert Chambers returns with a new book that reviews, together for the first time, some of the revolutionary changes in the methodologies and methods of development inquiry that have occurred in the past forty years, and reflects on their transformative potential for the future.

This book breaks new ground by describing and analysing the evolution of a sequence


Robert Chambers returns with a new book that reviews, together for the first time, some of the revolutionary changes in the methodologies and methods of development inquiry that have occurred in the past forty years, and reflects on their transformative potential for the future.

This book breaks new ground by describing and analysing the evolution of a sequence of approaches. Starting with the dinosaurs of large-scale multi-subject questionnaire surveys, and the biased visits and perceptions of rural development tourism and urban-based professionals, there follows a look at the explosive proliferation of methodologies and methods of recent years. These include rapid rural appraisal (RRA) participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and dramatic developments in the still largely unrecognized fields of participatory numbers and statistics, and of participatory mapping and GIS. Chambers shows how these can empower local people and provide rigorous and valid substitutes for some more traditional methods of inquiry. Also presented is a repertoire for offsetting the biases of the urban trap, which has become so serious for officials and aid agency staff. Importantly, Chambers points out that we are now in a different space, methodologically, from a few years ago. He makes the case that participatory methodologies, evolved through creative and eclectic pluralism, can be a transformative wave for the future as drivers of personal, professional and institutional change. This book is for all who are concerned with development, regardless of profession, discipline or organization, who seek to be abreast of the revolutionary breakthroughs in approaches and methods of inquiry of recent years, and what Chambers calls their 'unlimited potentials'. Published with IDS.

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Taylor & Francis
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Table of Contents

List of Figures, Tables and Boxes xiii

Preface xv

Acknowledgements xix

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations xxi

Chapter 1 The Provocation: Dinosaurs 1

Abstract 1

Experiences 2

Starting the journey (2008) 2

Large-scale multi-subject questionnaire surveys observed 3

Investigator effects 3

Pressures on researchers 4

Convergence on questionnaires (1983) 5

Survey slavery (1983) 6

Data as fabricata (2008) 9

Review and reflection (2008) 11

Types of large-scale survey 12

1 Large-scale time series censuses and surveys 12

2 Large-scale surveys to find out about a topic or context 13

Sustainability, evolution and resilience 13

3 Scientific experimental method, controls and causality 16

Questionnaires, complexity and participation 19

Chapter 2 Rural Development Tourism: Poverty Unperceived 25

Abstract 25

Genesis and rationale (2008) 25

Rural poverty unperceived (1983) 26

The urban trap 26

Rural development tourism 29

Rural poverty unperceived: The six biases 31

Spatial biases: Urban, tarmac and roadside 31

Project bias 33

Person bias 35

Elite bias 35

Male bias 36

User and adopter biases 36

Active, present and living biases 36

Dry season biases 36

Diplomatic biases 38

Professional biases 38

The unseen and the unknown 39

The biases reviewed (2008) 41

Spatial bias 42

Project bias 43

Person bias 44

Seasonal bias 44

From diplomatic to poverty bias 44

Professional biases 45

Security bias 45

Urban bias? 46

Concluding 46

Chapter 3 Microenvironments: Observing the Unobserved 49

Abstract 49

Microenvironments unobserved (1990) 49

Complexity and diversity underperceived 50

Sites forresearch and trials 50

Field visits 50

Short time horizons 51

Sheer blindness 51

Livelihoods 52

Microenvironments unobserved 52

Smallness and dispersal 54

Research station conditions 54

Sequential creation 54

Gender 54

'Unimportant' crops 54

Misfit with normal research 55

Properties of microenvironments 56

Specialisation 56

Concentration 56

Protection 56

Diversity and complexity 56

Nutrition and health 57

Reserves and fallbacks 57

Restraining migration 57

Innovation, experiment and adaptability 58

Whose knowledge and creativity counts? 58

Action for the 1990s 59

More observations (2008) 60

Chapter 4 Rapid Rural Appraisal: Origins, Rationale and Repertoire 67

Abstract 67

Errors and opportunism: One person's stumbling (2008) 68

The emergence of RRA 70

Rapid Rural Appraisal: Rationale and repertoire (1980) 71

The problem 71

Quick-and-dirty 72

Long-and-dirty 72

Fairly-quick-and-fairly-clean 73

A start with a repertoire for RRA 74

Existing information 74

Learning ITK (indigenous technical knowledge) 75

Using key indicators 75

Adaptations of Hildebrand's 'sandeo' 76

Local researchers 76

Direct observation 76

Key informants 77

Group interviews 77

The guided interview 78

Aerial inspections and surveys 78

Conclusions 79

Postscript (2008) 79

Appendix Some sources, approaches and methods 81

Chapter 5 PRA: Pathways, Practice and Principles 85

Abstract 85

Practice: What has happened? 86

Participatory rural appraisal 86

The evolution of PRA and PLA 88

Ahhas! Excitement 89

Spread and applications 91

Co-evolving streams of participatory methodologies 93

Farmer participatory research 93

Integrated pest management (IPM) 94

Reflect 94

Stepping Stones (SS) 95

The Internal Learning System 96

Participatory Action Learning System 96

Community-Led Total Sanitation 96

Principles: Theory from practice 97

Behaviours, attitudes and mindsets: Precepts for action 98

Methods: Visuals, tangibles and groups 99

Sharing: Pluralism and diversity 101

Beyond PRA, brands and boundaries 101

Chapter 6 Who Counts? Participation and Numbers 105

Abstract 105

Introduction 106

Gains from quantitative approaches 107

Beyond conventional qual-quant complementarities 107

Modes of participatory number-generating 109

Participatory methods, applications and activities 111

Going to scale with participatory numbers 113

Participatory surveys 113

Aggregation from focus groups 114

Participatory wealth ranking and well-being grouping 115

Poverty: The challenge of comparisons and commensurability 116

Poverty lines from participatory wealth ranking in South Africa 116

Food security in Malawi 116

Destitution in Ethiopia 117

The Participatory Poverty Index in China 117

The stages of progress method 118

Producing national statistics 119

Who counts? 120

Participatory Impact Assessment (PIA) to inform policy 120

Participatory M and E and empowerment 120

Participatory statistics, empowerment and policy influence 122

The best of all worlds? 124

Validity and reliability 125

Insights into sensitive subjects 125

Unexpected and striking insights for policy 126

Power, reversals and learning 127

Alternatives to questionnaires 127

Methodological challenges 128

The future 129

Chapter 7 Whose Space? Mapping, Power and Ethics 133

Abstract 133

The origins and history of participatory mapping 134

Ground and paper mapping 136

Applications and uses 137

Spatial information technologies and participatory GIS 138

Medium and process 139

Maps, realities and power 141

Power and realities within communities 141

State maps, counter maps and combinations 142

Facilitation, behaviour, attitudes and ethics 146

Ethics: The Who? and Whose? Questions 147

Who? and Whose? questions 147

Conclusion 149

Chapter 8 Traps and Liberations 151

Abstract 151

Context and challenge: To be in touch and up to date 151

Out of the Jurassic trap: Alternatives to dinosaurs 153

From urban trap to new black hole 154

Out of the black hole: Beating biases is fun 156

Send messages in advance 157

Reflect and offset during a visit 157

Offset biases and enjoy 157

Include the excluded 158

Learning face to face 159

Team reality checks 159

Total participatory research 159

Immersions with overnights 160

Listening and life stories of people living in poverty 161

Learning how to liberate 162

Recovering and reviving the good already known 162

Retaining quality with going to scale 162

Enabling incentives and values 163

Whose trap? Whose liberation? Issues of ethics 163

The paradox of power: Reversals for pro-poor professionalism 164

Chapter 9 Participatory Methodologies: Drivers for Change 167

Abstract 167

The journey so far 168

Methodological diversity and pluralism 169

Implicit and resonant theory 171

Paradigms: From things to people 172

Self-organizing systems: Chaos, complexity and emergence 174

Pluralism: Eclectic, versatile and creative 177

Potential to transform: PMs and their facilitation as drivers for change 178

Blocks to realizing potentials 180

Lessons of experience and ways forward 181

The personal dimension: Innovators, facilitators, disseminators 181

Time and space for creativity 182

Methodological diversity: Enriching the repertoire 183

Funders 183

Transforming university and college teaching 184

Experiential learning, critical reflection and brainstorming 186

Combinations and sequences: Personal, institutional and professional 187

Coda: Visionary realism 188

References 193

Index 223

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