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Centre of African Studies: Research


Paper Details

Author: Ruth M. Najda

Title: Participatory Local Research: A Namibian Case Study

Year: 1993

This case study evaluates the effectiveness of a research methodology which brings together local and outsie expertise to do research into an issue of local interest. The term 'participatory local research' is used to describe this approach. This case study illustrates how local people with no previous research experience can begin to develop the skills which will equip them to be equal parters in a research team. A flexible and responsive learning process guided by educational theories was sued within a framework of interpretative and developmental social resarch. The primary interest of the study was the process of participatory local research, rather than the results of the study carried out by the local reseachers. While the local researchers developed their skills and carried out their research I carred out an evaluation of the process they were underdoing. An illuminative framework was used to evaluate the interpretative, educational and developmental features which characterise this example of participatory local research. Of particular interest is the grounded theory approach taken in the local researchers' study into the gender division of labour. The results of the evaluation indicate that professional development did occur. The evaluation results also highlight some of the wider issues which need to be addressed in order to produce interpretative data which are valid. These relate to the difficulties facing local researchers in moving from a peronal to a professional interpretation of issues with which they are intimately involved. Finally, the case study illustrates some of the tensions inherent in a responsive and pragmatic approach to the collection and interpretation of research data and the wider theoretical assumptions of interpretative social research.

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