LaGSus / Sub-projects / Sociology module / Methodological approaches
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Methodological Approaches

From the start "patterns of power and trust" referred to regional and global power structures as much as to local ones: how are the local processes of interaction and institutionalization related to global discourses and development initiatives? Some unexpected perspectives emerged from participation in conferences and internet research (see the internal discussion paper Nachhaltige Entwicklung aus der Sicht der Wirtschaft). Internet research quickly became as important as a source of information as conventional literature review, particularly for current information about recent events and developments in the four countries concerned: Namibia, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, and Uganda.

Uganda was added to the original list of case studies as a result of the political upheaval in Ivory Coast which necessitated the relocation of a key researcher to Uganda where he is now directly involved in a development initiative - thus providing additional empirical material for the comparative perspective of LAGSUS.

Two different field methods have been developed in the course of the project up to now, both of them taking into account that questions of power and trust are sensitive issues for interlocutors and therefore difficult to approach directly.

1) Children's theatre as a mirror of adult conceptions was the first of these. The basic concept is simple: Allow school children to develop a theatre play around the theme of an imagined development intervention in a first step, and then ask adults to comment on the performance of that play (for a detailed description see Childrens Theater Method). The method was field-tested both in Namibia and in Indonesia. The experience has in both cases been that a drama performed by children indeed provides a good entry point for discussions with groups of adults. At the same time we had to realize that the children would need more time to develop the play into a "mirror" which reflects the (under)currents of local politics better and more deeply than in our examples.

2) Following the realization of the time constraints, a combination of mapping and key informant interviews (see Sociology field research summary) was used for the field research stays in Indonesia, Uganda, and Namibia. Interviews focused on local notions of leadership and resource use, while the mapping exercise aimed at demonstrating resource links between households. Maps on paper can be re-used for further additions and details - and they provide a "key" to talk to other people about resource use and leadership. They therefore provide a partial solution to a problem many field researchers have encountered: the artificiality of the interview situation - which, however, is difficult to avoid when the time for field research is not as extended as in classical anthropological research.

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