Participatory research: A brief overview

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Presented by Paul Sillitoe at the Expert meeting on participatory agricultural research: Approaches, design and evaluation, Oxford, 9-13 December 2013

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Participatory research: A brief overview

  1. 1. Participatory research: A brief overview Paul Sillitoe University of Durham Expert meeting on participatory agricultural research: Approaches, design and evaluation, Oxford, 9-13 December 2013
  2. 2. Development as material progress • Assumes technologically driven change • Assumes capitalist market political economy • Development aims to reduce global poverty
  3. 3. • Material = only legitimate measure of objective progress • Top-down interventions planned and implemented by agencies • Theory of modernisation
  4. 4. Development and social change • Technology not socially neutral • Natural resources v. social dimensions enduring source of confusion about development
  5. 5. Socio- cultural variation • Socio-cultural acceptability a central issue • Generic solutions v culturally tailored ones
  6. 6. Unsustainable development • Sustainable development – today’s buzz word • Repeated failure of development programmes
  7. 7. What is sustainability? • Sustainability - change is gradual • Development - change is rapid • Difficult to square sustainability with economic growth • Environmental costs of capitalism potentially unsupportable long-term
  8. 8. Participation • Agencies realise human element important • Precursor = Farming Systems Research • But participatory approaches have not enjoyed the success anticipated by supporters. Why?
  9. 9. Local versus global science What do you see?
  10. 10. • Duck-rabbit -- questions privileging of global science • Focus on the interface where knowledge negotiation occurs
  11. 11. Hybridisation Generic development solutions versus socioculturally specific ones
  12. 12. Soundness of local science • Idea others’ knowledge can contribute -- even challenge science – appears preposterous • Increasingly realised local knowledge of natural resources and practices integral aspects of any environment
  13. 13. Local know-how and sustainability • Much to learn from those we presume to develop regarding sustainability • Appreciation of local ideas & practices to encourage more sustainable development in both ecological & cultural senses • Implies undoing much of the change previously imposed on populations to ‘develop’ them?
  14. 14. Interdisciplinarity • Focussing on identified researchable constraints • Distorting to divorce knowledge from wider socio-cultural context • Problems of reductionism lead to calls for interdisciplinarity • Local knowledge interdisciplinary by definition
  15. 15. Tacit knowing • Challenge documenting tacit knowledge • How can we capture in words? • We all engage daily in acts not focally aware of
  16. 16. Variation • Variation in what people know • Clustering of certain knowledge within populations • Links to political power
  17. 17. Local political issues • Participation in hierarchical societies? • Experts know all • Challenge to devise inclusive approaches • Problem of short time research frames
  18. 18. Knowing what’s at stake: education? • Education a development priority, to inform people • But how to avoid brainwashing?
  19. 19. International political issues • Left wing = appropriate local determination • Right wing = getting market to work • Participation as parroting dominant view • How realistic to expect dominant nations to relinquish power? • Complexities of democratic government
  20. 20. Manipulation of participation • Participation a forlorn hope? • Participatory development subject to manipulation • Political pressures for control and ‘results’ • Blueprint v process approaches
  21. 21. Misuse of knowledge • Agencies may misuse knowledge • Unfair exploitation as a commodity • Concerns for intellectual property rights
  22. 22. • Substantial challenges • Thanks!

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