Tuesday, August 03, 2004

No more paradigm changes please!

"It is often assumed that participatory methods are suitable for
gathering qualitative information but that when hard, reliable,
numerical data are required we must turn instead to surveys and
questionnaires with their pre-determined categories and neat tick
boxes. In fact this is a myth, albeit one sustained by some with
vested interests in maintaining their "expert" status and privileges

This is the first paragraph of a paper titled "Party Numbers: quantification though participation" which was published in the May 2004 issue of the Enterprise Impact NEWS letter [Issue 30]. This two page paper was a summary of a longer paper by both authors titled “Reversing the Paradigm: Quantification and Participatory Methods".

I have provided a brief critique of the two page summary, which is now available on the MandE NEWS website, here at www.mande.co.uk/docs/CommentsChambers&Mayoux.doc.

Amongst other things, my comments covers the following:
- the need for fewer loose references to paradigm changes
- less use of straw man arguments about different methods of impact assessment
- the need to think about which methods are appropriate in which contexts, rather than making broad generalisations about suitability of methods
- making more use of ranking methods, which are very simple forms of measurement that can be used in both inductive and deductive approaches to impact assessment
- limiting our ambitions about empowering people when doing impact assessments

After I emailed these comments to Linda and Robert, Linda then replied with her comments on what I had said. I have since replied to Linda with some further comments on issues she has raised.

Please add you own comments to this ongoing dialogue, by clicking on the orange "comments" link below.