By Jean-Pierre Olivier De Sardan
This publication re-establishes the relevance of mainstream anthropological (and sociological) methods to improvement approaches and concurrently acknowledges that modern improvement needs to be anthropology's vital sector of research. The advent offers a thought-provoking exam of the vital new techniques that experience emerged within the self-discipline through the Nineties. half I then makes transparent the complexity of social switch and improvement, and the ways that socio-anthropology can degree as much as the problem of this complexity. half II appears extra heavily at the various prime variables desirous about the improvement approach, together with kin of construction; the logics of social motion; the character of data; varieties of mediation; and "political" innovations.
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Extra resources for Anthropology and Development: Understanding Comtemporary Social Change
We submit to its use only by reason of its prevalence. Rigorous ‘qualitative’ comparativism implies a certain number of methodological innovations: see, for example, the ECRIS canvas (Bierschenk and Olivier de Sardan, 1997a, presented in Chapter 12, which served as a methodological background for many of the works quoted above); see, at another level, Long’s methodological annexes, in Long, 1989. The demise of functionalism is at the centre of Booth’s analysis; he insists that this is an effect of Marxism and is rather pleased with the current renaissance of ‘development studies’, its ‘rediscovery of diversity’ (Chapter 8 below proposes a more complex analysis on Marxism, but I agree with some of Booth’s conclusions concerning the limitations of the Marxist approach).
Development ‘in the field’ is the end product of these multiple interactions, which no economic model in a laboratory can predict, but whose modalities anthropology can describe and attempt to interpret. This implies a level of competence that cannot be improvised. The confrontation of varied social logics surrounding development projects constitutes a complex social phenomenon which economists, agronomists and decision makers tend to ignore. In face of the recurrent gap between expected behaviour and real behaviour, in face of the deviations to which all development operations are subject, in consequence of the reactions of target groups, developers tend to resort to pseudo-sociological notions that bear a closer resemblance to clichés and stereotypes than to analytical tools.
5 The expression belongs to Long: ‘The essence of an actor-oriented approach is that its concepts are grounded in the everyday life experiences and understandings of men and women be they poor, peasants, entrepreneurs, government bureaucrats or researchers’ (Long,1992c: 5). 6 I borrow the epithet ‘qualitatitive’ from certain American sociologists (see Strauss, 1987, 1993) but not without some reservations. On one hand the term ‘qualitative’ has the merit of underlining that one can practise sociology without falling victim to statistical obsessions, polls, or questionnaires (‘what cannot be quantified does exist, does have consequences, can be argued and made the subject of propositions and hypotheses’, Bailey, 1973b:11).