Process, Perception and Power: Notes from ‘Participatory’ Research in a Zimbabwean Resettlement Area

Citation:

Goebel, Allison. 1998. “Process, Perception and Power: Notes from ‘Participatory’ Research in a Zimbabwean Resettlement Area.” Development and Change 29: 277-305.

Author: Allison Goebel

Abstract:

The increased popularity of 'participatory' methods in research, development projects, and rural extension in developing countries, has not consistently been accompanied by a critical evaluation of the quality and reliability of knowledge created and extracted in the process. In this article, the author employs her own research using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) in a Zimbabwean Resettlement Area, to examine how knowledge is created through this type of research act, and how later research may be used to turn back and 'make sense' of PRA data. The article explores how power relations among participants are both revealed and concealed in PRA, focusing specifically on the implications for gendered perspectives. The paper also highlights the dynamic, contested and often contradictory nature of 'local knowledge' itself. Apparently transparent chunks of 'local reality' gleaned through PRA can turn out to be part of complex webs of multiple ideologies and practices. The author argues that while participatory methodologies may offer effective ways of beginning a research project, adoption of short PRA workshops in academic or project related research could lead to dangerously faulty representations of complex social worlds.

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 1998

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.