Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Religion and Development


Minor Research Project

Kabir Krishna
Master of Philosophy (Social Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology
University of Delhi


Currently in the 21st century, there is a more intellectual climate, which is more receptive to an analysis of development within theoretical frameworks and the dynamics of cross-cultural practices, meanings and discourses. New approaches to development and local and global relationships underline the importance of analyzing how knowledge and power are constituted and reconfigured. This has brought out the usual anthropological problem of how to engage with and represent other cultures, whilst trying to understand and move away from its own historical roots in Western rationality and the commitment to 'progress'. (Marcus and Fischer 1986)

The dominant conception from the origins of anthropology as a discipline was the idea of social evolution. Thus the project at the time was to trace the different stages of progression and use the observations of 'savage' and 'barbarian' peoples as evidence that would fill in the earlier stages of what human history had been, thus creating a vision of a kind of human unity. Furthermore it was a device of differentiating and ranking different contemporary society according to their level of evolution, since, "other tribes and nations have been left behind in the race of progress." (Morgan: 1877: vi)

Universally, most people are religious – they believe that there is an invisible world, which is distinct but not separate from the material world, and which is inhabited by spiritual forces with whom they can interact. Rather than religion being a quality that gives meaning to live, as for many in the west, for people in many countries, the spiritual world is integral to the world as they know it.

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices generally organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and mystic experience. The term "religion" refers to both the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction.

Religion has been defined in a wide variety of ways. Most definitions attempt to find a balance somewhere between overly sharp definition and meaningless generalities. Some sources have tried to use formalistic, doctrinal definitions while others have emphasized experiential, emotive, intuitive, valuational and ethical factors.

Definitions mostly include:

Ø a notion of the transcendent or numinous, often, but not always, in the form of theism
Ø a cultural or behavioural aspect of ritual, liturgy and organized worship, often involving a priesthood, and societal norms of morality (ethos) and virtue (arete)
Ø a set of myths or sacred truths held in reverence or believed by adherents

Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine, religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought… it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” According to this definition, religion refers to one's primary worldview and how this dictates one's thoughts and actions.

Other religious scholars have put forward a definition of religion that avoids the reductionism of the various sociological and psychological disciplines that reduce religion to its component factors. Religion may be defined as the presence of a belief in the sacred or the holy. For example Rudolf Otto's "The Idea of the Holy," formulated in 1917, defines the essence of religious awareness as awe, a unique blend of fear and fascination before the divine. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as a "feeling of absolute dependence."

In the frame of European religious thought, religion presents a common quality, the "hallmark of patriarchal religious thought": the division of the world in two comprehensive domains, 'one sacred, the other profane (Durkheim). Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion is also often described as a "way of life".

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures. "Organized religion" generally refers to an organization of people supporting the exercise of some religion with a prescribed set of beliefs, often taking the form of a legal entity. Other religions believe in personal revelation. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system,” but is more socially defined than that of personal convictions.

Anthropology and Development

Early anthropologists were engaged in debating two major sets of theoretical issues which bore directly on the practical application of anthropological knowledge. The first of these was the notion of change itself. Within anthropology, social change was initially debated between diffusionists - who saw change as gradually spreading across cultures from a common point, and evolutionists - whose ideas rested on the assumption that all societies, if left alone, would evolve through broadly similar stages. In time the diffusionist arguments, which recognised that cultures interact with each other and are thereby altered, gradually replaced those of the evolutionists. With the growth of functionalism, anthropology began to concern itself more with the means through which societies maintained themselves than with the ways in which they changed.
The tendency to study societies as if they were static remained strong in the period up to the Second World War, but was challenged by anthropologists interested in what was termed 'culture contact' in the colonial territories. Communities and explanations of social and political change were sought and somewhat explained. Increasingly, change came to be seen as inseperable from society itself, and the realisation and acceptance of this by anthropologists and development. The second obstacle which stood in the way of developing applied anthropology was the issue of cultural relativism, which raised the problem of the ethics of intervention by anthropologists in the communities in which they work - one which has not been resolved and is still debated today.
'Development' projects were seen as the answer to the crisis of colonial empires. France and Britain had strong doctrines of colonial self-sufficiency, in the name of which long-term initiatives to improve the colonial infrastructure were repeatedly rejected. However, the concept of development became a framing device bringing together a range of interventionist policies and metropolitan finance with the explicit goal of bringing forward, and modernising the colonies, and essentially 'development' became apart of the colonial project. The development framework was an effort to reinvigorate and relegitimise empire as it was being challenged by nationalist movements, labour militancy, and increased questioning of colonial rule. In the end, the colonial development effort had a different effect. It provided a means by which imperial powers could reconcile themselves to their loss of power, while maintaining a connection with their ex-colonies and a continued sense of their mission in shaping their future. The de-colonisation period, changed the world order toward different nation states, beyond its previous diverse sorts of political entities. Furthermore, it brought former colonies into relationship with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and numerous multilateral organisations, which took development out of the colonial realm and made it a basic part of international politics and the internationalisation and politicisation of development.
This created a large demand for new kinds of knowledge from specialist to the scientific, and created a demand for training more relevant to the conditions of poor societies in the tropics, where anthropologists led the way. Further, it created a market amongst the newly emerging nation states to accept the advice and scientific 'expertise' in the name of development as it brought financial investment under the banner of development aid. This modernist disposition inspired a narrative concerning the way to achieve rapid economic development in Third World countries, which relates back to the social evolutionary theories of the late 19th century in anthropology which were revived in some forms during the post-war optimism, despite the strong cultural relativist debate, which saw the evolutionism theory as empirically flawed and ethnocentric.

Anthropology of Religion

The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures. In the 19th century, cultural anthropology was dominated by an interest in cultural evolution; most anthropologists assumed that there was a simple distinction between “primitive” and “modern” religion and tried to provide accounts of how the former evolved into the latter. In the 20th century most anthropologists rejected this approach. Today the anthropology of religion reflects the influence of, or an engagement with, such theorists as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber. They are especially concerned with how religious beliefs and practices may reflect political or economic forces; or the social functions of religious beliefs and practices.

Anthropological approaches to religion reflect a more general tension within anthropology: the discipline defines itself as a science in that all anthropologists base their interpretations and explanations on empirical evidence (and many anthropologists are concerned with developing universal models of human behavior), and the discipline also defines itself in terms of the seriousness with which it takes local beliefs and practices, and its commitment to understanding different cultures in their own terms through participant observation. Thus, although many Westerners (including some anthropologists) have rejected “religion” out of hand as being unscientific, virtually all anthropologists assume that there must be good reasons for the endurance and importance of religion and, by implication, assume that religious beliefs and practices are in some sense “reasonable.” According to Swatos William, "It has never been difficult to make a case for the significance of religion in human life. Religion has been found in all societies studied by anthropologists." In order to determine the reasons for the importance of religion, however, anthropologists

generally move beyond the literal claims of any religion to look at its metaphorical meaning or latent social functions.

One major problem in the anthropology of religion is the definition of religion itself. At one time anthropologists believed that certain religious practices and beliefs were more or less universal to all cultures at some point in their development, such as a belief in spirits or ghosts, the use of magic as a means of controlling the supernatural, the use of divination as a means of discovering occult knowledge, and the performance of rituals such as prayer and sacrifice as a means of influencing the outcome of various events through a supernatural agency, sometimes taking the form of shamanism or ancestor worship. According to Clifford Geertz, religion is a system of symbols, beliefs, and patterns of behaviors by which human beings control that which is beyond their control. Today, anthropologists debate, and many reject, the cross-cultural validity of these categories (often viewing them as examples of European primitivism). Anthropologists have considered various criteria for defining religion – such as a belief in the supernatural or the reliance on ritual – but few claim that these criteria are universally valid.

In Western culture, religion has become more or less synonymous with monotheism and the various moral codes that monotheism prescribes. Moral codes have also evolved in conjunction with Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, independent of monotheism. However, prescriptive moral codes or even normative ethical codes are not a necessary component of religious beliefs or practices any more than they are a necessary component of science and the scientific method.

Anthony F.C. Wallace proposed four categories of religion, each subsequent category subsuming the previous. These were, however, synthetic categories and did not necessarily encompass all religions.

1. Individualistic: most basic; simplest. Example: vision quest.
2. Shamanistic: part-time religious practitioner, uses religion to heal, to divine, usually on the behalf of a client. The Tillamook have four categories of shaman. Examples of shamans: spiritualists, faith healers, palm readers. One who has acquired religious authority through one's own means.
3. Communal: elaborate set of beliefs and practices; group of people arranged in clans by lineage, age group, or some religious societies; people take on roles based on knowledge.
4. Ecclesiastical: Most complex. Incorporates elements of the previous three.

The role of Religion in Development

All of these initiatives can be understood as part of a wider shift away from a narrowly economic paradigm of development. The concept of human development is now widely accepted. Human development, according to the United Nations Development Programme, ‘is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests’ (UNDP website). It thus refers to people’s resources beyond any purely material and technocratic aspect. Most policymakers today accept that sustainable development can be achieved only if people build on their own resources. Logically, these assets should be considered to include not only intellectual and social resources, but also spiritual ones, if and when these are available

Moreover, it has become common in development cooperation to emphasise the importance of true partnerships in fostering a cooperation whose binding forces are said to be ‘solidarity and mutual respect’ (Commission for Africa, 2005: 89). If this is indeed so, it implies taking seriously people’s world-views and considering their potential for the development process as a whole. There are in any case eminently practical reasons for including religion within a broad concept of development, since religion provides a powerful motivation for many people to act in the ways they do. It equips many of the world’s people with the moral guidance and the will to improve their lives. Whether one regards religious belief as itself ‘true’ or ‘untrue’ is hardly the point here.

Religion and Development

A major obstacle in investigating the role of religion in development is a widespread misunderstanding about what religion actually is (Ellis and Ter Haar, 2004: ch. 1). For most people in the world, ‘religion’ refers to a belief in the existence of an invisible world, distinct but not separate from the visible one, which is home to spiritual beings that are deemed to have effective powers over the material world (Ellis and Ter Haar, 2004: 14). For people who hold this point of view, the invisible world is an integral part of the world, which can not be reduced to its visible or material form only. For them, the material world is linked to the spirit world, through the human spirit that is believed to be inherent in every person; hence, a regular traffic is believed to take place between the human and the spirit worlds. In such a holistic perception of the world, it follows that people’s social relations extend into the invisible sphere. In the same way as they try and maintain good relations with their relatives, neighbours and friends for their own benefit, individuals and communities invest in their relations with spiritual entities so as to enhance the quality of their lives. Thus, people all over the world enter into various forms of active communication with a spirit world in such a way as to derive information or other resources from it with a view to furthering their material welfare or interests.

Religion and its relation with Development

Sabina Alkire says that “Religion is no panacea, but aspects of it can complement as well as motivate development. It can also obstruct or undermine. The avenues by which religion influences development activities in different faiths and regions are haunting in their complexity. The literature is likewise rich and varied. Religious people and institutions may be agents of advocacy, funding, innovation, empowerment, social movements, and service delivery. Equally, religious people and institutions can incite violence, model hierarchy, oppose empowerment (women should stay at home); deflect advocacy (we care about the next life); absorb funding (build a new worship hall); and cast aspersions on service delivery (they are trying to convert you). A further complication: the gusto of development experts who resonate with religion is enthusiastically matched by the repugnance of those who revile it. To scan busy contemporary intersections between religion and development is to neglect the long and varied historical associations and literatures.”

A number of references can be easily pointed out on this matter. As Amartya Sen pointed out, Ashoka, a convert to Buddhism in the 3rd century B.C., explicitly championed religious tolerance – as indeed did Moghul Emperor Akbar in a muslim state nearly two millennium later (while the Christian Inquisition was in full swing) (Sen 1999: 236, Smith. 1964). Bartolomé de las Casas, a 15/16th century Dominican friar and Spanish missionary to Latin America, wrote in defense of indigenous persons’ rights to self determination. Abdullahi An-Naim reminded that Gandhi’s ‘secular’ India intended to draw upon and incorporate spiritual insights rather than sideline them (Anheier et al 2002: 59-61). The point is that religion and development have often been intimately interwoven most of the times.

Gerrie ter Haar, Professor of Religion, Human Rights and Social Change, Institute of Social Studies says that there is a need to maximise the resources available for development. We call on people’s financial, material and intellectual resources to achieve development objectives – why not also call upon their religious resources which are, she suggested, an integral part of their human resources? These religious resources include ideas (the content of belief), practices (essentially ritual behaviour), social organisation (religious communities) and religious experiences. All, she suggests, produce knowledge that can be beneficial in development. For example, religious ideas can be used to affirm desired behaviour or can seed new behaviour. Ritual, especially ritual associated with rites of passage, can provide opportunities for changing or reinforcing beliefs and behaviour. Thirdly, religious experience is often an affirmative and potentially life-changing source of inspiration for the marginalised, for example, through the experience of being ‘born again’.

Faith-based organizations

Moving to more practical matters, local, national, and international faith-based organizations (FBOs – Faith Based Organisations organizations whose motivation or funding sources derive partly from their faith) are, in some areas, significant purveyors of education, service delivery and other non-market goods. They may also introduce cultural values. Islamic Relief, Catholic Relief Services, the Aga Khan Development Network and others deliver significant resources. The Christian evangelical development agency World Vision, with a 2003 cash budget of $819 million, and an effective budget of $1.25 billion due to inkind contributions, is among the largest and more studied of such international NGOs (World Vision 2003.). The economic views of these organizations are quite varied. For some the provision of social services by such private organizations is consistent with neo-liberal agendas that would prefer to see the state shrink; other Faith Based Organisations’ pose structural challenges and demand greater political responsiveness to social ills. By far the greatest number of Faith Based Organisations’ are local or national. One famous example is the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka, founded by A. T. Ariyaratne in the 1950s, which awakened members to their inner person, and urged them then to change outer structures by common activities such as volunteer work camps – with the famous slogan “We build the road and the road builds us” (Lean 1999, Chapter 3).

In some cases religious institutions also deliver services directly; for example religious schools may be subsidized and run directly by churches or monasteries/convents. Some government programs are also faith-based – for the separation of religion and state that is apparent in most industrialized countries is not found in many developing countries (Barro and McClearly 2004). The prevalence of Faith Based Organisations’ has led to their scrutiny by development institutions but the literature is widely dispersed. Most are case studies with respect to a particular sector or region or organization (Marshall and Keough, 2004, Development 2003; World Development 8:4 1980). Some are country-wide – such as World Bank findings that for the poor “in Benin, church-affiliated organizations represent the most prominent and effective protection network” (Kliksberg 2003:58.) or that in Malawi “in the mid-1970s, it is claimed that the annual budget of a prominent ecumenical organisation, the Christian Service Committee of the Churches of Malawi, was 1.5 times the size of the entire government allocation for development.” (Arnold Mhango, Executive Director Christian Service Committee of the Churches of Malawi, WFDD workshop Canterbury, 24 February 2003). The World Bank’s World Development Report 2004: Making Services work for the poor refers frequently to religious schools and organizations as existing delivery mechanisms for essential services.

Religion and Organisation

To date, ter Haar suggests, the main religious resources that have been used in development have been its organisational structures. However, these, she believes, represent less than the potential presented by the full range of religious resources. Religion, she asserted, provides people with spiritual power, which gives them control over and the potential for transforming their lives, thereby addressing development problems. For example, she suggested that Christian ideas suggest not only that a materially better world is part of human destiny, and so development goals may be seen as embodying Christian ideas of the Kingdom of God on earth, but also that people are not just material beings. However, in practice, as noted by Denis Goulet as long ago as 1980, ‘development experts’ can be likened to ‘one-eyed giants’ who act as if people are purely material beings. The development project has been based on a false dichotomy between spiritually-driven and materially-driven development.

Carole Rakodi, has outlined some of the dilemmas faced when researching in a neglected and sensitive area like religions and development. She suggests that the relationships between development theory and practice and religion have been neglected because religion has been seen as irrelevant, especially by development economics, or as an obstacle (by modernisation theory and because of religious conflicts, especially in S Asia, that led to supposedly secular constitutional settlements at independence). Belief in economic development planning, the need to forge national unity and deliver on the promises of independence under-wrote a state-centred approach to social and economic development that was reinforced by secular international financial institutions and bilateral development agencies.

Nevertheless, she says that it is important to study religions and development because religion is a key dimension of many people’s lives and influences their actions; religious organisations are significant in many societies; religion and politics are linked in controversial ways; the role of religion in public life is being radically reassessed; conventional approaches to development and poverty reduction have generally ignored the role of religion in human lives and societies; and relationships between development actors and religious organisations are poorly understood.

She suggests some points. Accordind to her, first, we have to develop understandings of ‘development’ and ‘religion’. Early conceptualisations of development regarded it as progressive change, in terms of either material prosperity or social modernisation. Critics, however, regarded both these models as imperialistic. In reaction, approaches such as the capability approach, emphasised empowerment: societies, it is advocated, should identify the capabilities (the opportunities people have to achieve a certain kind of life) that are central, given people’s value framework; and governments’ role is to ensure that people have these opportunities (i.e. the freedom to choose). Religion is clearly relevant to this approach: it is linked to values (for example, the unique value of each individual, social justice, personal salvation, the sacredness of the material world) and it may also influence opportunities, by providing a basis for positive or negative discrimination, a means for accessing or being excluded from power, and through the nature and functions of religious organisation.

A broad distinction can be drawn between ‘substantive’ and ‘functional’ definitions of religion. Religion has certain attributes that distinguish it from other social phenomena, including belief in a transcendental reality and/or (a) spiritual being(s), religiosity (marked by beliefs and practices) and adherence to or membership of a religious organisation. It also plays a role in the construction of people’s worldviews and the maintenance of social cohesion. It provides meaning and order, which are revealed and transmitted through symbols and ritual, and interplay with class/caste, gender and ethnicity to influence beliefs and behaviour – a sense of personhood, social relationships and socio-political organisation.

Research into both religion and development, however, poses dilemmas for interdisciplinary researchers. The researcher has to find ways of
• recognising and dealing with the different views about the nature of knowledge held by adherents of different religious and practitioners of different disciplines
• studying religions and development without either simplifying complex and contested concepts or essentialising religion as the main source of people’s identity and motivation
• understanding complex relationships, for example, those between religion and culture; or religion and subjective/objective well-being.
• dealing with the complexity of comparisons between and within the six faith traditions we are studying, and between and within four countries, and clarifying the nature of conclusions that can be drawn from such comparative international research.

Vision of Development

Visions of development from faith perspectives may differ significantly from economic development. As Goulet wrote, to religious groups, development experts may seem like “one-eyed giants” who “analyze, prescribe and act as if man could live by bread alone, as if human destiny could be stripped to its material dimensions alone.” (Goulet 1980). For example, Seyyed Hussein Nasr’s writings critically evaluate modernization and development with respect to the extent to which it distracts Muslims from their true nature, or enables them to live out their true purposes better (Nasr 1975). The Roman Catholic social teachings, and in particular those since Populorum Progressio, articulate a faith-based view of development in which the contributions of spiritual disciplines and of ethical action to a person’s “vocation to human fulfillment” are addressed alongside contributions made by markets, public policy, and poverty reduction (Populorum Progressio 1967).

Born-again and Pentecostal forms of Christianity, which are also on the ascendant, hold yet other visions of development, which tend to emphasize the protection and promotion of the virtuous individual and family through behaviors of sobriety, industry, and self-discipline. Pentecostal leaders tend to be dismissive about the state’s ability to introduce meaningful change and often advocate liberation through microenterprise or penny capitalism. They contrast religious visions with ‘the world’ (with its wasteful demands or spiritually suspect traditions). They would also stress individual responsibility and decision-making based on religious principles, even if these upset traditional obligations to family and community (Meyers 2004).

Religion vs Development

Religion may become a practical problem when religious leaders or institutions obstruct development or view it as a threat because it promotes western liberal secular culture and human rights, or when religious rhetoric is a veneer for other motives. Classic issues of value conflict surround family planning methods such as contraception and abortion, HIV/AIDS prevention and implicit messages related to sexual morality and women’s empowerment; other issues might relate to secularism, sacred sites, dress, or tolerance of outside groups. In development such values and practices may be addressed under the label of ‘culture’. Organizations such as UNFPA have actively cultivated respectful modes of cooperation with faith leaders and international religious institutions. Cooperation with donor countries must also navigate religious values. For example, at the time of writing the popularity of the ABC (Abstinence, Being Faithful, Condoms) approach to HIV/AIDS prevention was threatening US funding for condoms (Green 2003).

Given that patriarchy is engrained in the cultural forms of many world religions, a separate literature has developed on women and religion. Many topics may relate not to development itself but rather to sexuality, prayer, family life, or violence. However an active interface occurs between religious groups and ‘gender and development’ agendas such as women’s empowerment, reproductive health, education, or personal security.

This interface is expressed in meetings as well as literature that draws attention to oppressive or theologically disputable practices towards women, and also to devout women in positions of leadership (Balchin 2003, Howland 2001, Ahmed various).

Religious forces in Civil Society

Another literature addresses religion as a critical factor in civil society support for development priorities. The Global Civil Society Report 2004/5 argues that “There is no way we can understand the logic, strategies and dynamics of civil society anywhere in the
Third World unless we bring the transcendental dimension back into our analysis.

Religious devotion is a fundamental motive for many social movements in the South, from Latin America to Africa and South Asia. Political and social movements and advocacy campaigns have often drawn upon religious motivations and the support of religious leaders. The churches’ mobilization in support of the anti-apartheid campaign and the Jubilee campaign for debt forgiveness was arguably central to their political visibility. And in Latin America, churches mobilized in support of literacy (Archer and Costello 1990). Insofar as political parties set development agendas that can be exclusive or equity-enhancing, the religious influence on political movements is also important. In India, the rise of Hindu nationalism has been linked to the televised Hindu epic series Ramayana (Rajagopal 2001). Religious regimes and parties, whether in Bhutan or Iran or Arab States or Pakistan or Latin America or Europe, may influence development priorities to some extent. The international MDG campaigns are actively collaborating with faith groups to mobilize the faithful for advocacy and non-violent symbolic actions.

Religious extremism
However benevolent and indeed inspiring some religious expressions may be, development is regularly obstructed by conflict and violence – some of which is also caused by religious groups (or groups with a religious veneer). An enormous literature has emerged, and gained further momentum after Sept 11th, on religious contributions to conflict and violence. Whether in Sri Lanka or Central Asia and Chechnya, the Middle East or Gujarat, or Bosnia or Southern Africa, armed groups have claimed religious support for their endeavours. Given that conflict both causes and exacerbates poverty, and interrupts development, careful attention needs to be paid to the possible negative consequences of cooperation with religious groups.

Religion is a social and political reality which instills the motivation to act, provides the inspiration to change lives for the better, and is associated with religious networks which are also used for social, economic and political purposes.

To conclude, in India, this problem, combined with the democracy, has become an avalanche waiting to occur. As the people form ‘Vote Banks’, the appeasement policy of the State and Central Governments has acted as a shot in the arms of the people and every act and policy of development, if related to a religion, is obstructed by the people of that religion. Though the number of the people may be less, but in no way is their bullish nature is hindered. This is not a path to take if one wants a developed India. These people who take the flag of religion and wave it as if they are the only one who want to ‘protect’ it should be punished with an iron fist. The polio cases in Uttar Pradesh and the Seva Samudram project to make the traveling of the ships possible between India and Sri Lanka are two cases that point to religious fanaticism.

But to see the silver lining, which does exist, a lot of development has been done for the people through and by Religion. There can be no doubt in our mind that motivation that is provided to the development work through religion is outstanding. The world is changing, and alongside, the rate of development of India is in no way slow. On the contrary, if is faster than a number of countries. The backbone of India is religion and the relationship between development and religion has helped the process of development to move faster and faster.


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Qualitative Methods: A Study

Minor Research Project

Kabir Krishna
Master of Philosophy (Social Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology
University of Delhi

Drawing from a long tradition in anthropology, sociology, and clinical psychology, qualitative research has, in the past years, achieved status and visibility in the social sciences and helping professionals in research and varied other fields.

The key to understanding qualitative research lies with the idea that meaning is socially constructed by individuals in interaction with their world. According to Sharan B. Merriam (2002, 2), 'The world, or reality, is not the fixed, single, agreed upon, or measurable phenomenon that it is assumed to be in positivist, quantitative research. Instead, there are multiple constructions and interpretations of reality that are in flux and that change over time.' This is what the qualitative research is conserned with. This is what the investigator knows when he enters the seemingly complex web and tries to unravel the complexities to get the answers. Qualitative researchers are interested in understanding what those interpretations are at a particular point in time and in a particular context. Learning how individuals experience and interact with their social world, the meaning it has for them, is considered an interpretive qualitative approach.

In attempting to understand qualitative research, it is critical to delineate its foci and its goals. First, Qualitative research seeks dapth rather than breadth. Instead of drawing from a large, representative samplesample of an entire population, qualitative researchers seek to acquire indepth nad intimate information about a smaller group of persons. Second, the aim of the qualitative research is to learn about how and why people behave, think, and make meaning as they do, rather than focussing on what peiople do or believe on a large scale.Third, the goals of qualitative research can be situated on a large scale. Qualitative research spans the micro-macro spectrum and both structural and processual issues (Maines, 1983)
Here one more point arises as in addition to to its various functions, on a number of times qualitative research comes uf with some discovery rather than verification of existing values, opinions and other human ways. New information may reflect new practices or new behaviours, new forms of sicial structure, and or new ways of thinking or interpreting processes of socialization or change. It may involve complete redirection, opr modification of, or addition to existing ideas. (Ambert, Adler, Adler & Detzner, 1995, 880)

As a qualitative researcher, one approaches an investigation from any of the philosophical or theoretical stances which the he wants to proceed with. His particular stance determines the specific research design that he employs for carrying out his study. If his primary interest is in understanding a phenomenon, there are many options, the most common being grounded theory, phenomenology, narrative, ethnography, case study, or just a basic interpretive study. Thesr are all inspired from various anthropological theories.

There are a number of major characterstics of the various interpretive qualitative research designs. The first characteristic is that researcher strives to understand the meaning people have constructed about their world and their experiences; that is, how do people make sense of their experience? He wants to go underneath their experiences and opinions and wants to know what their mindset is composed of and his inquiry consists of a number of 'how, who, why, when and what'. As Patton (1985, 1) explains: Qualitative research “is an effort to understand situations in their uniqueness as part of a particular context and the interactions there. This understanding is an end in itself, so that it is not attempting to predict what may happen in the future necessarily, but to understand the nature of that setting - what it means for participants to be in that setting, what their lives are like, what’s going on for them, what their meanings are, what the world looks like in that particular setting. The analysis strives for depth of understanding.”

A second characteristic of all forms of qualitative research is that the researcher is the primary instrument for data collection and data analysis. Since understanding the social phenomenons and gauging the social reality is the goal of his research, the human instrument, which is able to be immediately responsive and adaptive, would seem to be the ideal means of collecting and analyzing data. Other advantages are that the researcher can expand his or her understanding through nonverbal as well as verbal communication, process information (data) immediately, clarify and summarize material, check with respondents for accuracy of interpretation, and explore unusual or unanticipated responses.

However, the a major point that arises is that the respondents may have shortcomings and biases that might have an impact on the study. Rather than trying to eliminate these biases, it is important to identify them and monitor them as to study how they may be shaping the collection and interpretation of data.

Approaches to Qualitative Research
There are a number of approaches to qualitative research
· Action Research
· Case Study
· Clinical Research
· Cognitive Anthropology
· Collaborative Enquiry
· Dialogical Research
· Conversation Analysis
· Delphi Study
· Descriptive Research
· Direct Research
· Discourse Analysis
· Document Study
· Ecological Psychology
· Educational Connoisseurship and Critisism
· Educational Ethnography
· Ethnographic Content Analysis
· Ethnography
· Ethnography of Communication
· Ethnimethodology
· Ethnoscience
· Experimenal Psychology
· Field Study
· Focus Group Research
· Grounded Theory
· Hermeneutics
· Heuristic Research
· Holistic Ethnography
· Imaginal Psychology
· Intensive Evaluation
· Interpretive Interactionism
· Interpretive Human Studies
· Life Study Studies
· Naturalistic Inquiry
· Oral History
· Panel Research
· Particapant Observation
· Participant Research
· Phomenology
· Qualitative Evaluation
· Structural Ethnography
· Symbolic Interactionism
· Transcendental Realism
· Transcendental Research

(Souce - Tesch 1990, 58)

Methods of qualitative research

Observational techniques are methods by which an individual or individuals gather first-hand data on programs, processes, or behaviors being studied. They provide researchers with an opportunity to collect data on a wide range of behaviors, to study a large variety of interactions, and to gather information on the topic. By directly observing the activities, the researcher can develop a holistic perspective, i.e., an understanding of the whole process. This may be especially important where it is not the event that is of interest, but whats happening. Observational approaches also allow the researcher to learn about things the participants or staff may be unaware of or that they are unwilling or unable to discuss in an interview or focus group.

Interviews provide very different data from observations: they allow the researcher to capture the perspectives of participants, and others associated with the research project. The use of interviews as a data collection method begins with the assumption that the participants’ perspectives are meaningful, knowable, and able to be made explicit, and that their perspectives affect the success of the project. An interview, rather than a paper and pencil survey, is selected when interpersonal contact is important and when opportunities for followup of interesting comments are desired. the researcher tries to know rather what occurs, how it occurs, why does is happen, when does it happen, wehat do people think about a social structure of a phenomenon.
Two types of interviews are used in evaluation research: structured interviews, in which a carefully worded questions are administered; and unstructured or indepth interviews, in which the interviewer does not follow a rigid form. In the former, the emphasis is on obtaining answers to carefully phrased questions. Interviewers are trained to deviate only minimally from the question wording to ensure uniformity. In the latter, the interviewers seeks to encourage free and open responses. Indepth interviews also encourage capturing of respondents’ perceptions in their own words, a very desirable strategy in qualitative data collection. This allows the researcher to present the meaningfulness of the experience from the respondent’s perspective. Indepth interviews are conducted with individuals or with a small group of individuals.

Focus Groups
Focus groups combine elements of both interviewing and participant observation.' The focus group session is, indeed, an interview not a discussion.' (Patton, 1990) At the same time, focus groups capitalize on group dynamics and interactions. The hallmark of focus groups is the explicit use of the group interaction to generate data and insights that would be unlikely to emerge without the interaction found in a group. The technique inherently allows observation of group dynamics, discussion, and firsthand insights into the respondents’ behaviors, attitudes, language, etc.
Focus groups are a gathering of 8 to 12 people who share some characteristics relevant to the evaluation. Originally used as a market research tool to investigate the appeal of various products, the focus group technique has been adopted by other fields, such as education, as a tool for data gathering on a given topic. Focus groups conducted by experts take place in a focus group facility that includes recording apparatus and an attached room with a one-way mirror for observation.

Document Studies
Existing records often provide insights into a setting and/or group of people that cannot be observed or noted in another way. This information can be found in document form. Document can also be defined as as "any written or recorded material" not prepared for the purposes of the evaluation or at the request of the inquirer. Documents can be divided into two major categories: public records, and personal documents (Guba and Lincoln, 1981).

Public records
Public records are materials created and kept for the purpose of "attesting to an event or providing an accounting" (Lincoln and Guba, 1985). Public records can be collected from outside (external) or within (internal) the setting in which the evaluation is taking place. Examples of external records are census and vital statistics reports, county office records and newspaper archives, that may help the researcher in gathering information about the community and relevant trends. Such materials can be helpful in better understanding the project participants and making comparisons between groups/ communities.
For the evaluation of educational innovations, internal records include documents such as student transcripts and records, historical accounts, institutional mission statements, annual reports, budgets, grade and standardized test reports, minutes of meetings, internal memoranda, policy manuals, institutional histories, college/university catalogs, faculty and student handbooks, official correspondence, demographic material, mass media reports and presentations, and descriptions of program development and evaluation. They are particularly useful in describing institutional characteristics, such as backgrounds and academic performance of students, and in identifying institutional strengths and weaknesses.
Personal documents are first-person accounts of events and experiences. These "documents of life" include diaries, portfolios, photographs, artwork, schedules, scrapbooks, poetry, letters to the paper, etc. Personal documents can help the evaluator understand how the participant sees the world and what she or he wants to communicate to an audience. And unlike other sources of qualitative data, collecting data from documents is relatively invisible to, and requires minimal cooperation from, persons within the setting being studied (Fetterman, 1989).

Performance Assessment
The performance assessment movement is impacting education from preschools to professional schools.

Case Studies
Classical case studies depend on ethnographic and participant observer methods. They are largely descriptive examinations, usually of a small number of sites where the researcher is immersed in the life of the community or institution and combs available documents, holds formal and informal conversations with informants, observes ongoing activities, and develops an analysis of both individuals and the social processes.

Social Capital
Bourdieu has described Social Capital as 'the aggregate of the actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition' (Bourdieu 1983: 249).

The World Bank defines Social Capital as ‘the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions... Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together'
(The World Bank 1999).

Qualitative Research Methods inspired from Anthropology

Qualitative observational research consists of over 30 different approaches which often overlap and whose distinctions are very fine. The type of approach used depends on the research question and the discipline the researcher belongs to. For instance, 'anthropologists commonly employ ethnomethodology and ethnography, while sociologists often use symbolic interaction and philosophers frequently use concept analysis' (Marshall & Rossman 1995).
The major research methods inspired from anthropology are:-:
· Ethnography
· Narrative Inquiry
· Short Term Observation
· Ethnomethodology
· Grounded Theory
· Phenomenology
· Kinesics

Ethnography is a long term investigation of a group that is based on immersion and participation in that group. Ethnography provides a detailed exploration of group activity and may include literature about the group. It is an approach which employs multiple methodologies to arrive at a theoretical understanding of a group or culture. Ethnography attempts to explain the social relations and the interdependence of group behaviors and interactions.

Narrative Inquiry
Narrative inquiry is the process of gathering information for the purpose of research through storytelling. The researcher then writes a narrative of the experience. Connelly and Clandinin (1990) say that, "Humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and collectively, lead storied lives. Thus, the study of narrative is the study of the ways humans experience the world." In other words, they say that people's lives consist of stories.
Field notes, interviews, journals, letters, autobiographies, and orally told stories are all methods of narrative inquiry. Narrative inquiry is appropriate to many social science fields.

Short Term Observation
Short term observational studies list or present findings of short term qualitative study based on recorded observation. Observation in the studied group's natural setting is a key aspect of qualitative research. The terms group and culture are used in a loose sense here because for the researcher, a group or culture may include populations such as an individual classroom of students, a set of employees in the workplace, or residents of similar geographical or cultural areas or backgrounds. Short term observational studies differ from ethnographies in that they focus more narrowly on specified categories of group behaviors. This type of research functions well as a means of fleshing out quantitative research that would otherwise do little more than list numerical data. Types of short term observational research run the spectrum from crossing the boundary into quantitative research to a very nearly ethnographic approach.

According to Coulon (1995, 15), "ethnomethodology is the empirical study of methods that individuals use to give sense to and to accomplish their daily actions: communicating, making decisions, and reasoning". This approach may be called as a form of ethnography, which specifically studies activities of group members to see how they make sense of their surroundings.

Grounded Theory
In this approach, researchers are responsible for developing other theories that emerge from observing a group. The theories are "grounded" in the group's observable experiences, but researchers add their own insight into why those experiences exist. In essence, grounded theory attempts to "reach a theory or conceptual understanding through step wise, inductive process" (Banning 1995).

This approach seeks to explain the "structure and essence of the experiences" of a group of people (Banning 1995). A phenomenologist is concerned with understanding certain group behaviors from that group's point of view. Phenomenological inquiry requires that researchers go through a series of steps in which they try to eliminate their own assumptions and biases, examine the phenomenon without presuppositions, and describe the "deep structure" of the phenomenon based on internal themes that are discovered (Marshall & Rossman, 1995).

Kinesic analysis examines what is communicated through body movement. This approach is based on the assumption that all human beings, although they may be unaware of it, act and react to situations nonverbally as well as verbally. Kinesics can be especially useful when employed in conjunction with other qualitative methods such as interviews and narratives to substantiate the existing data. This comes under non verbal communication in communication anthropology and is an important tool to study the body language.

Rapid Appraisal and Participatory Research

Qualitative methods are particularly appropriate for research which requires understanding of a complex range of variables impacting on one another as well as on project outcomes.

Rapid Appraisal (RA) is a qualitative appraisal methodology derived from rural development related research. Rapid Appraisal is particularly useful in defining issues and generating insights, emphasizing learning from and with a community or a group. The earliest form of Rapid Appraisal originated in the late 1970’s. Known initially as Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), the new methodology was born to improve the cost-effectiveness, timeliness, and quality of rural development-related research. Rapid Rural Appraisal is one of several related qualitative research methods utilizing participatory techniques as well as analytical approaches to study a group. ' Rapid Rural Appraisal derived from two different sources; ecology and systems disciplines utilising analytical techniques such as pattern analysis, flow diagrams and decision trees to study agricultural ecology' (Conway, 1986) and 'the participant observation methodology of socio-cultural anthropology' (Sweetser, 1996).

Rapid Rural Appraisal methods were also an alternative to the defects and high costs of large-scale questionnaire surveys that sometimes produced wrong data. Rapid Rural Appraisal techniques have been applied extensively in many areas of development studies including agricultural research planning, planning natural resources and landcare and emergency relief. Data gathering is based on sampling from a range of experiences and from people in the field. This information is then filtered through the perceptions of the researchers to provide rich detail and insight. Rapid Rural Appraisal has now expanded to a number of related applications including Relaxed Rural Appraisal, Rapid Assessment Procedures, Participatory Rural Appraisal and Participatory Learning and Action.

Rapid Appraisal is often multidisciplinary in nature with a broad way to collect information. A broad description of Rapid Appraisal is ‘any systematic activity designed to draw inferences, conclusions, hypotheses or assessments, including acquisition of new information in a limited period of time’ (Grandstaff & Grandstaff, 1987). Once linked to projects, and focused mainly on rural development, RA techniques are now linked to larger issues of policy and governance and used in urban and other contexts.

Rapid Appraisal forms part of a continuum of qualitative appraisal methodologies, which require superior observing, listening and learning skills. RA techniques are frequently contrasted with the use of large-scale surveys, particularly in terms of sample selection, data collection, and interpretation of findings (Grandstaff & Grandstaff, 1987).

Characteristics of Participatory Research
The key features of participatory research are:
· people are the subjects of research: the dichotomy between subject and object is broken
· people themselves collect the data, and then process and analyse the information using methods easily understood by them
· the knowledge generated is used to promote actions for change or to improve existing local actions
· the knowledge belongs to the people and they are the primary beneficiaries of the knowledge creation
· research and action are inseparable – they represent a unity
· research is a praxis rhythm of action-reflection where knowledge creation supports action
· people function as organic intellectuals
· there is an built-in mechanism to ensure authenticity and genuineness of the information that is generated because people themselves use the information for life improvement.

The key processes of Participatory Research
The promotion of participatory research is basically an exercise in stimulating the people to:
· collect information
· reflect and analyse it
· use the results as a knowledge base for life improvement, and
· whenever possible, to document the results for wider dissemination i.e. for the creation of a people’s literature.

The role of the Researcher
The role of the outside professional is to promote the above processes. This can be done by:
· assisting people to collect data and then to process and analyse the information using simple methods which enables them to systematise their knowledge
· linking the local situation (which the people know best) to the larger external situation (about which the outside may know more)
· improving people’s access to new information and formal knowledge (eg technology)
· introducing local people to experiences from outside their environment
· throwing up relevant issues or problems for local people to reflect on and analyse and then assisting them in coming to their own conclusions.

The important thing is that the interaction between local people and the outside professional must primarliy benefit the people concerned by enabling them to articulate and systematise their own thought processes and thereby enhancing their knowledge base so that the can pursue independent actions.

Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)
Rapid Rural Appraisal consists of a series of techniques for quick but correct research that are claimed to generate results of less apparent precision, but greater evidential value, than classic quantitative survey techniques. The method does not need to be exclusively rural nor rapid, but it is economical of the researcher's time. It is essentially extractive as a process: the agenda is still that of the outside researcher.
Rapid Rural Appraisal emerged in the 1970s as a more efficient and cost-effective way of learning by outsiders, particularly about agricultural systems, than was possible by large-scale social surveys or brief rural visits by urban professionals. It drew on many of the insights of field social anthropology of the 1930s-1950s, emphasized the importance and relevance of situational local knowledge, and the importance of getting the big things broadly right rather than achieving spurious statistical accuracy. It developed a style of listening research, and a creative combination of iterative methods and verification, including "triangulation" of data from different sources - using two different methods to view the same information. It was usually conducted by a multi-disciplinary team, and its chief techniques included:
· Review of secondary sources, including aerial photos, even brief aerial observation
· Direct observation, foot transects, familiarization, participation in activities
· Interviews with key informants, group interviews, workshops
· Mapping, diagramming
· Biographies, local histories, case studies
· Ranking and scoring
· Short simple questionnaires, towards end of process
· Rapid report writing in the field.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
Participatory Rural Appraisal is distinguished from other Appraisals at its best by the use of local graphic representations created by the community that legitimize local knowledge and promote empowerment.
Emerging in the 1980s, Participatory Rural Appraisal builds on Rapid Rural Appraisal but goes much further. To Rapid Rural Appraisal, it adds some more radical activist perspectives, deriving principally from South Asia. Its four central additional concepts are:
Ø Empowerment. Knowledge is power. Knowledge arises from the process and results of the research that, through participation, come to be shared with and owned by local people. Thus the professional monopoly of information, used for planning and management decisions, is broken. New local confidence is generated, or reinforced, regarding the validity of their knowledge. "External" knowledge can be locally assimilated.

Ø Respect. The Participatory Rural Appraisal process transforms the researchers into learners and listeners, respecting local intellectual and analytical capabilities. Researchers must avoid at all costs an attitude of patronizing surprise that local people are so clever they can make their own bar charts etc. A good rule of thumb is that when you can really understand the local jokes, poetry and songs, then you may feel you are starting to understand the people's culture.
Ø Localization. The extensive and creative use of local materials and representations encourages visual sharing and avoids imposing external representational conventions. Today, the emphasis is no longer on "rapid" but on the process through Participatory Rural Appraisal.
Ø Inclusiveness. Enhanced sensitivity, through attention to process; include marginal and vulnerable groups, women, children, aged, and destitute.

Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a more activist approach, working to empower the local community, or its representatives, to manipulate the higher level power structures. Claimed for a variety of interventions - World Bank-supported credit unions for the relatively privileged, Grameen-type banks for the very poor, community based paralegal training and litigation, voter education drives among the marginalized - Participatory Action Research can empower a community, entrench a local elite, right a wrong or totally mess things up. It depends on the extent of awareness and political savoir faire of the supporting outside organization.
Participatory Action Research, which owes more to a radical activist tradition from the work of Paulo Freire and others in Latin America, derives some of its rationale from an awareness that Participatory Action Research, for all its emphasis on participation, capability building, ownership of knowledge and empowerment, is still fundamentally an extractive and intellectual exercise. Participatory Action Research, by contrast, works directly with local political/development capacities to bring real, visible organizational structures, effective local advocacy, and a durable change in power relations with the center.


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New Ethnography


Minor Research Project

Kabir Krishna
Master of Philosophy (Social Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology
University of Delhi


New Ethnography began in the early 1960s in America and during that time two more school of thoughts came up. They were Structure Functionalism and Structuralism. (The writings of Strauss in French originally published in 1940s got translated in 60s). This branch is also known as Ethno science or Ethno semantics or Cognitive Anthropology. It emerged in America in response to the existing intellectual tradition in United Kingdom and France. In United Kingdom there was rigorous Structure Functionalist tradition in which ethnographic writings were regarded as scientific emphasizing behavior. In France, the studies emphasized human mind. The new ethnography differed from both of them.

In comparison to the British counterparts, it believed that the wealth of the cultural data could only come from the way people actually thought, of what they think. It involves the local idiom of perceiving, relating and understanding a phenomenon. The new ethnographers said that a phenomenon could only be studied by making a journey into the cultural cognition of people thereby decussating shift of studying human behavior, to study the categories, indigenous classification of nature, kin members, Gods, cosmos which will tell us the way in which people perceive things so this departure was marked with emphasis on the human thought categories.

In contrast to the French counterpart, it believed in certain principles by which human mind functions but it never believed that there are any universal principles regulating the human mind.

According to Tyler (1969:3), New Ethnography or Cognitive Anthropology is an idealist approach to studying the human condition. The field of cognitive anthropology focuses on the study of the relation between human culture and human thought. In contrast with some earlier anthropological approaches to culture, cultures are not regarded as material phenomena, but rather cognitive organizations of material phenomena.

Source: Fig. 1 (Colby 1996:210)

New Ethnography in modern anthropology can be traced back to Franz Boas (Colby 1996:210). Boas, who first turned to anthropology during his research on the Eskimo and their perception of the color of ice and water, realized that different peoples had different conceptions of the world around them. He was so affected that he began to focus his life’s work on understanding the relation between the human mind and the environment (Shore 1996:19). This work, which was fueled by his revolt against the racist thinking of the day, would direct Boas towards trying to understand the psychology of tribal peoples. This aspect of his work is best expressed in his essay "Psychological Problems in Anthropology" (1910), and culminates in his volume The Mind of Primitive Man (1911). Boas encouraged investigations of tribal categories of sense and perception, such as color, topics that would be critical in the later development of New Ethnography (Shore 1996:20-21).

The essence of New Ethnography is:
It has a different way of dealing with the culture. It regarded culture as a system of shared cognitive knowledge and beliefs.
According to it human mind creates culture by means of certain principles or by a finite (not infinite) set of logic, number of rules primarily guided at an unconscious level.
This different way of conceptualizing culture or creation of culture is closely related to certain fields like linguistics and cognitive psychology. It differed from structure functionalism in a fundamental manner i.e. structure functionalism is interested in knowing the cultural grammar of all societies. But New Ethnography believes that each culture each culture has its own grammar and it is the task of the anthropologist to unravel this.

New Ethnographers study how people understand and organize the material objects, events and experiences that make up their world as the people they study perceive it. It is an approach that stresses how people make sense of reality according to their own indigenous cognitive categories, not those of the anthropologist. New Ethnography says that each culture orders events, material life and ideas, to its own criteria. The fundamental aim of new ethnography is to reliably represent the logical systems of thought of other people according to criteria, which can be discovered and replicated through analysis.

According to Goodenough, ethnoscience studies the form of things that people have in mind, the people's mode of perceiving, relating and otherwise integrating them with one another. ethnoscience attempts to find out how members of a community or culture ‘see’ and ‘describe’ their world thus unraveling the ‘emic’ point of view. This view is opposite of ‘etic’ point of view. According to new ethnographers, the ‘emic’ point of view uses the indigenous categories and these categories are not borrowed from the outside science. These categories come from the cultural logic, rooted in the local language and such an attempt believes that the local nuances can’t be understood the movement ethic category is used.

A missionary linguistic Kenneth Pike (1954) was the first to use these terms- ‘emic’ and ‘etic’. In fact he was interested in the phenomena of phonemic and phonetic. The phenomenon of phonemic is a linguistic phenomenon which leads to structural results like two sounds which are distinguished from one another in terms of slight variation like bat and bad. Pike argued that study of such unique sounds that distinguish from one another takes us to structural study. An exhaustive classification of local sounds would take us to non-structural results thereby taking us to ‘etic’ study. Kenneth Pike was regarded as the first one to have used these terms elaborating upon their distinction. From these distinctions, we come across the distinction between ‘emic’ and ‘etic’. Etic is a useful category for that branch of science which use quantitative method but for science using qualitative method there is greater reliance on emic data. Such compartmentalization is artificial because social reality is a complex area and division of it into qualitative and quantitative data is done at the cost of organic unity of reality.

New Ethnographers are of the opinion that emic point of view refers to logical empirical system where units and things are built up of contrast and distinction, regarded as significant or appropriate by actions themselves. In other word steps that are involved in discovering the emic point of view could be identified in following manner

It begins with assumption that every culture has its own logic. Therefore the major task is to discover logico-emperical system.
This system comprises of units and units are related to one another. Underlying this relationship is the principle of contrast, discrimination, comparison by certain parameters regarded as significant by actors themselves. For example in a culture one has several statements made by local people (emic) but does the researcher involve all statements? Any statement made by a person qualifies to be included in the data.

Frake and Conklin (1964) have commented on the manner in which an emic point of view is established. According to them, emic statements have a structural fit with total cognitive calculus of cultures. In case there is a misfit, it is of doubtful validity. According to them, the validity of an emic point of view is established when the researcher can appropriately anticipate the behavior. They used the word instead of prediction. New ethnography using cultural logic method anticipates behaviour instead of predict. There is difference between what is ‘actual’ and what is ‘ideal’. There exists this dichotomy between them. While ideal point of view is emic, the actual behaviour can be studied from both perspectives

The term New Ethnography was coined American Anthropologist Stuart Vant in 1964. When this term was coined, it was free from criticism. He coined the term to describe the ethnographic outputs carried out or done by contemporaries using method of ethnoscience, where classification of folk categories provided basis for analysis.

New Ethnography regards anthropology as a formal science. They maintain that culture is composed of logical rules that are based on ideas that can be accessed in the mind. New ethnography emphasizes the rules of behavior, not behavior itself. It does not claim that it can predict human behavior but delineates what is socially and culturally expected or appropriate in given situations, circumstances, and contexts. It is not concerned with describing events in order to explain or discover processes of change. Furthermore, this approach declares that every culture embodies its own unique organizational system for understanding things, events, and behavior. Some scholars contend that it is necessary to develop several theories of cultures before striving for could eventually lead to a grand theory of Culture (Applebaum, 1987:409).

Characteristics of New Ethnography

1. Those aspects of culture which most clearly reflects the native's conception of physical space, nature, social order and spiritual entities. This approach studies those aspects of culture which are reflection of peoples’ point of views like classification of plants and animals or Gods.
2. They study the linguistic expressions and the categories of speech, though those are responsible for providing a classification of space, animals, human beings, Gods etc. In other word they also study the linguistic expressions that directly express the principal that organise human thinking i.e. there are certain principal organizing human thinking in terms of linguistic categories.
3. Study the terminological system of folk classification that people use to describe plants, animals, colours, human beings, kins, emotions etc. They also study the symbols that provide meaning to a wide range of phenomenon relating to subsystem. Each subsystem is guided by organizing principles which have to be discovered because they regulate symbols giving rise to systems. Unlike structural anthropology, new ethnography is not interested in underlying universal cultural logic or to decipher it logics of individual cultures.
4. The new ethnography relies on two important methodological concepts like metaphors and narratives. Metaphor refers to applying a term to an action, imaginatively and not literally. When Clifford Geertz said that culture is like an old city (metaphor) so it is an imaginative and not literary description. Narrators on the other hand are written or spoken account of connected happenings in order of occurrence. A narrative is a vivid description of a phenomenon, which clearly brings out the local flavor. New ethnography uses these two methodologies or tools to describe cultural phenomenons. Heavy reliance is on metaphor and narratives because it is through them they want to construct cultural texts and they are not used by researcher himself but by the people themselves. Each and every culture has metaphors.

Gloria Goodwin Raheja in her work examined the marriage songs from the point of view of subversion, patriarchy and gender. Analyzing the content of these songs she argues that in highly patriarchal and oppressive society of North India, marriage songs give opportunity to subvert through recreation, imagination and creating space for themselves. This is an instrument to challenge existing order and negotiate identity. She has extensively relied on metaphors and narratives to prove her point.

After 1960s many such works came up in India. McKim Marriot’s work on India through Hindu categories is a landmark study in new ethnography. Through his work, he shows that what is the Hindu way of perceiving space, society, and cosmos.

Principal Concepts

Cultural Model: "Cultural model" is not a precisely articulated concept but rather it "serves as a catchall phrase for many different kinds of cultural knowledge" (Shore 1996:45). Also known as folk models, cultural models generally refer to the unconscious set of assumptions and understandings members of a society or group share. They greatly affect people’s understanding of the world and of human behavior. Cultural models can be thought of as loose, interpretative frameworks. They are both overtly and unconsciously taught and are rooted in knowledge learned from others as well as from accumulated personal experience. Cultural models are not fixed entities but are malleable structures by nature

Domain: A domain is comprised of a set of related ideas or items that form a larger category. Weller and Romney (1988: 9) define domain as "an organized set of words, concepts, or sentences, all on the same level of contrast that jointly refer to a single conceptual sphere". The individual items within a domain partially achieve their meaning from their relationship to other items in a "mutually interdependent system reflecting the way in which a given language or culture classified the relevant conceptual sphere" (1988:9).

Folk Models: "Games, music, god sets, and other cultural phenomena in one domain can be seen as models for behavior and conceptualization in another domain. The model domain is an area with little conflict or anxiety, but the domain mapped by the model is often conflicted, anxiety producing, and stressful” (Colby 1996:212).

Folk Taxonomies: Much of the early work in ethnoscience concentrated on folk taxonomies, that is how people organize certain classes of objects or notions. There is an enormous amount of work in this area.

Knowledge structures: Knowledge structures go beyond the analysis of taxonomies to try to elucidate the knowledge and beliefs associated with the various taxonomies and terminology systems. This includes the study of consensus among individuals in a group, and an analysis of how their knowledge is organized and used as mental scripts and schemata (Colby 1996:210).

Mazeway: Wallace defines mazeway as "the mental image of society and culture" (D’Andrade, 1995:17). The maze is comprised of perceptions of material objects and how people can manipulate the maze to reduce stress. Wallace proposed this concept as part of his study of revitalization movements. Wallace postulated that revitalization movements were sparked by a charismatic leader who embodied a special vision about how life ought to be. The realization of this vision required a change in the social mazeway.

Mental Scripts: Scripts can be thought of as a set of certain actions one performs in a given situation. Examples would include behavior in a doctor's office, or in a restaurant. There are certain codified and predictable exchanges with minor individual variations (Shore 1996:43). Existing scripts do not guide every daily action; rather, they are set schemes or recipes for action in a given social situation.

Prototypes: Prototype theory is a theory of categorization. The "best example" of a category is a prototype (Lakoff, 1987). Prototpyes are used as a reference point in making judgements of the similarities and differences in other experiences and things in the world. Lakoff (1982:16), for example, states that in comparison to other types of birds the features of robins are judged to be more representative of the category "bird" just as desk chairs are considered more exemplary of the category chair than are rocking chairs or electric chairs. Membership largely hinges on a cluster of features a form embodies. Every member may not possess all of the attributes but is nonetheless still regarded as a type. When a type is contrasted with the prototype certain clusters of features are typically more crucial for category measurement (Lakoff 1984:16). Furthermore, two members of a category can have no resemblance with each other but share resemblance with the prototype and therefore be judged as members of the same category. However, the qualities of a prototype do not dictate category membership exclusively. The degree to which similarity is exhibited by an object or experience does not automatically project that object or experience into category membership. For example, pigs are not categorized as dogs just because they share some features with the prototype of dog (Lakoff 1982, 17).

Schemata: This has been one of the most important and powerful concepts for cognitive anthropology in the past twenty years. Bartlett first developed the notion of a schema in the 1930s. He proposed that remembering is guided by a mental structure, a schema, "an active organization of past reactions, or of past experiences, which must always be supposed to be operational in any well-adapted organic response (Schacter 1989:692). New Ethnographers and scientists have modified this notion somewhat since then. A schema is an "organizing experience," it implies activation of the whole.

Semantic studies: Concerned primarily with terminology classifications, especially kinship classification (e.g. Lounsbury 1956), and plant taxonomies. In recent years, a greater emphasis has been directed towards the development of semantic theory (Colby 1996:210).

Semantic theory: A development of recent times, semantic theory is built upon an extensionistic approach that was first developed with kin terminologies and then extended to other domains (Colby 1996:211). There are core meanings and extensional meanings, the core meanings varying less among informants than the extensional meanings.

A key feature of new ethnography is that respondents are asked to define categories and terms in their own language. It is assumed that the anthropologist and the respondents do not have identical understandings of domains. Therefore, the elicitation of a specific domain is typically the first step in these studies. The boundaries of culturally relevant items within a domain can be determined through a variety of techniques.


According to Marvin Harris, this approach did not have anything to offer. He asked that what was new in this approach. He said that the claims that were made by new ethnographers have already been done by classical ethnographers. He cited three examples.
Clyde Kluckhon
Radcliffe Brown

He said that the works of all three contained the seeds of new ethnography. He was of the opinion that practitioners of this discipline were not aware of history of such a practice.

Clyde Kluckhon (1949) argued that the first task of an anthropologist was to study the events as seen by the people. It implies an orientation towards emic perspective. Malinowski, in 1922 clearly told that the final goal of an ethnographer was to grasp the native’s point of view. He further went on to say that understanding of subject, feeling is one of the tasks of ethnographers. Besides there lay an entire range of kinship, descent alliance theories and they were all modeled in accordance with the emic point of view. While in these theories, the emic point of view emerged in a central manner. Therefore, emic point of view was newly emphasized being ignorant of western practices.

Rodney Needham in his book ‘Structure and Sentiment’ clearly mentioned that the social order was a question of underlying logical and symbolic congruence. He was of the opinion that it was only after understanding logical and symbolic harmony, we can comment on social order. He was also aware of phenomenon of logic or symbolism. So Marvin Harries concluded that practitioners of new ethnography were seemingly unaware of history.

Some of the most severe criticisms of cognitive anthropology have come from its own practitioners. According to Keesing (1972:307) the so-called "new ethnography" was unable to move beyond the analysis of artificially simplified and often trivial semantic domains. Ethnoscientists tended to study such things as color categories and folk taxonomies, without being able to elucidate their relevance to understanding culture as a whole. Taking a lead from generative grammar in linguistics, ethnoscientists sought cultural grammars, intending to move beyond the analyses of semantic categories and domains into wider behavioral realms. Ethnoscientists attempted to discern how people construe their world from the way they label and talk about it (Keesing 1972:306).


New Ethnography has helped to provide a bridge between culture and the functioning of the mind (D'Andrade 1995:251-252). It has helped reveal some of the inner workings of the human mind, and given us a greater understanding of how people order and perceive the world around them. New Ethnography has something to offer each of anthropology’s four fields: archaeology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology

New Ethnography deals with abstract theories regarding the nature of the mind. While there have been countless methods for accessing culture contained in the mind, questions remain about whether results in fact reflect how individuals organize and perceive society, or whether they are merely manufactured by investigators having no foundation in their subjects’ reality (Romney 1999:105).

Moreover, it has significantly changed the face of cultural anthropology, particularly with respect to its methodological development. New Ethnography are used in a variety of anthropological contexts and applied to a variety of subjects. While cognitive anthropology has relied on a strong tradition of linguistic and cultural approaches, perhaps its greatest challenge lay in demonstrating its applicability to the biological and archaeological subfields. In short, new ethnography holds much promise for the future of cultural analysis.

To conclude, New Ethnography is a concept that has increased the position and his opinions in the researchers’ study. Involving Metaphors and Narratives has complemented the arena of New Ethnography.


Applebaum, Herbert. 1987. Perspectives in Cultural Anthropology. Albany: State University of New York Press

Colby, Benjamin N. 1996. Cognitive Anthropology. In Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology, Voulme 1. David Levinson and Melvin Ember, editors. Pp. 209-215. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

D'Andrade, Roy G. 1995. The Development of Cognitive Anthropology., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Frake, Charles O. 1969. The Ethnographic Study of Cognitive Systems. In Cognitive Anthropology. Stephen Tyler, editor. Pp. 28-41. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Goodenough, Ward H. 1969. Yankee Kinship Terminology: A Problem with Componential Analysis. In Cognitive Anthropology. Stephen Tyler, editor. Pp. 255-287. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Keesing, Roger M. 1972. Paradigms Lost: The New Ethnography and the New Linguistics. Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 28(4):299-332.
Lakoff, George. 1982. Categories and Cognitive Models. Berkeley Cognitive Science Report, Number 2. Berkeley: Institute of Cognitive Studies, University of California at Berkeley.
Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal About Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lounsbury, Floyd, 1956 A Semantic Analysis of Pawnee Kinship Usage. Language 32:158-194.
Romney, A. Kimball. 1999. Cultural Consensus as a Statistical Model. Current Anthropology , Volume 40, (S103-S115)
Schacter, Daniel L. 1989. Memory. In Foundations of Cognitive Science. Michael I. Posner, editor. Pp. 683-726. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Shore, Bradd. 1996. Culture in Mind: Cognition, Culture, and the Problem of Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Tyler, Stephen A., editor. 1969. Cognitive Anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
Weller, Susan C and A. Kimball Romney. 1988. Systematic Data Collection. Newbury Park, CA: Sage University Press.

Anthropology and Development

Anthropology and Development

Minor Research Project

Kabir Krishna
Master of Philosophy (Social Anthropology)
Department of Anthropology
University of Delhi

Anthropology and Development

Anthropology and Development enjoy a complementary relationship. Spradley and McCurdy (1972:9) say that Anthropology enables us to discover the different cultural worlds that human groups create and inhabit, and to understand these worlds in terms other than our own. Anthropology helps us appreciate that each culture has its own distinctive ethos or worldview, each with its own logic and coherence. Anthropology therefore serves as a bridge across cultures, making one intelligible to the other, preserving the integrity of each. Anthropos means Human and logia is Study so that anthropology is the study of humans. More specifically, it is the study of human differences, cultural and biological, in the context of human nature. Anthropologists identify and compare behavior of a particular group against the full range of human behavior. These comparisons should uncover principles that apply to all human communities. However, until after the Second World War, anthropology focused almost exclusively on non-Western or tribal peoples. In fact, this "third world focus" was the distinguishing characteristic of the discipline. In fact, for a long time anthropologists assumed that non-European cultures were different enough to warrant a different social science discipline to study them. This assumption seems less persuasive today.
Anthropologists studied the way of life, remains, language, and physical characteristics of primitive people -- social facts. Social facts might include how people celebrate a holiday or when they exchange gifts. Customs, values, and social patterns of different cultures were described and sometimes compared. How are different people in different places similar and different, both biologically and behaviorally?
All humans are fundamentally alike in many ways. We share biological needs and functions, we use language, and we form relationships. At the same time, each of us is unique individual: No one else on earth has quite our particular experiences, thoughts and wishes.
Culture, however, groups some individuals together and excludes others; it makes some of us alike and some of us different in important ways. The way we dress, the gods we worship, the language we worship the language we speak, the food we eat, the things we value or despise – all of these are culturally motivated and serve to differentiate the members of one culture from those of other. People use this cultural knowledge to look at their surroundings and to organize what they see. They use the culture to arrive at judgments about what is happening in their world, to help them select appropriate responses to those happenings, and to draw conclusions about the results of these actions.
The individual begins to be able to identify differences and similarities in the new environment.
The individual begins to grasp the form, content and underlying principles of the new environment

COPING WITH ITThe individual learns how to interact successfully with the new system in limited ways.

USING ITThe individual learns to work within the system to achieve desired goals and outcomes.

INTEGRATING ITThe individual incorporates elements of the new system into his or her own operating framework.
(Source: Nolan 1999:25)

Although many disciples engage in fieldwork, none do it as intensively as anthropologists. Field work is like a rite of passage for anthropologists in making. Without going on a fieldwork, they cannot state that they are fully qualified anthropologists. Research in fieldwork tends to be descriptive and qualitative based upon lengthy interviews and much detailed observation. Analysis and documentation of a culture via field work is called Ethnography.
In order to maximize learning, anthropologists see the culture from inside it. Thus, the cultural anthropologist attempts to discover how people see their world. Since they often spent many years living within the culture they studied, anthropologists often identified with the tribal group. Anthropology fosters a tolerance for different ways of living. Some anthropologists are strongly associated with the rights of native peoples to live their life without external threats. Thus, some anthropologists could be seen as an "enemy of progress."

Participant Observation
Anthropologists acquire their knowledge from other people through Participant observation. Participant Observation is simple learning by participating and observing. Anthropologists spend a great deal of time and energy trying to understand how people use language to talk about – and think about and act about – what is important to them. Learning the local language allows the anthropologists to participate, observe, question and measure using local terms and categories. Anthropologists in the field, far from being ‘objective’ or ‘detached’ observers, are extraordinarily dependent on the people around them for data.

Relativism is another key aspect of fieldwork methodology. Anthropologists believe that all people are fully and equally human, and that the only way to develop significant understanding of another culture is to judge it on its own terms. Because fieldworkers seek understanding from an insider’s point of view, they adopt an attitude of relativism – the suspension of judgment about another culture’s norms, values and practices - the better to understand to understand its internal logic and structure.
Each society has its own particular view of what is ‘normal’ and the people in these societies come to accept this view of normality and act accordingly. What might strike an ‘outsider’ as ‘irritational’ or ‘inefficient’ behaviour usually makes sense within its own cultural framework, where rationality and efficiency are defines differently.

Development as a cross cultural encounter
Development has been defined in a variety of ways, but improvement, empowerment and participation are key terms. Improvement refers to betterment in ways that local population understands, accepts and values. Empowerment means building local capacities for the planning and management of the changes associated with improvement. Participation means the involvement of different members of a society – groups and subgroups in the decisions that will effect their lives, now and in near future.
Development, often emanating from outside – can pose a threat or challenge to existing cultural practices. Development opportunities, furthermore, do not arrive at discrete packages, but as part of complex cultural system, with associated elements, values and consequences.
Development is not a thing or a concept, it is a process. A process of negotiation and sometimes conflict – over whose goals and values will prevail in change, whose rules will apply. Groups use their culture as recourse – and sometimes as weapon – to help shape responses to such changes and opportunities.
In this cross – cultural encounter, the potential for disappointment and disaster is high. Outcomes that satisfy neither development agencies nor local populations are all too frequent. Most of the time, development failures stem from lack of understanding between proposed changes and local cultural contexts, not a lack of finance, technology or goodwill.

Content and Context in Development Work
Successful development work requires both content and context knowledge. Content knowledge includes specific details of processes, operations and formulae – the procedures necessary to accomplish a task. Context knowledge refers to the understanding of a specific environment in which the task will be carried out. Development work tends to focus on matters of content – budgets, technical specifications procedures, deadlines and policies. Development specialists, whatever their discipline, therefore tend to share a common base of content knowledge thet makes it possible for them to communicate effectively in many situations and to craft policy prescriptions at the macro level.
But when one moves from policy to practice, the common universe of discourse becomes more fragmented. The success with which macro policies actually work in the field depends far more on context than anything else i.e. on the extent to which cultural assumptions contained in the policy actually fit with those operating in the local environment. In development situations, the cross-cultural nature of the encounter means that the content knowledge that drives policy, finance, and technology almost always requires detailed context knowledge of the local situation to be both relevant and effective.
The local cultural context within which a development project is situated can be ignored, and it usually is. But it will not go away unless people do. Cultures are flexible, resilient, and able to change, but they are also remarkably enduring. It is often seen that the development programs that fit with their surroundings work, whereas those that disregard salient aspects of context usually fail, sooner or later. The question then arises that how can context be incorporated into development policies and practices.

Anthropology and Development: Relationship
In the arena of development, anthropology provides the means both for understanding the con\text and for incorporating this context into planning and action in mutually satisfactory ways.
In many important ways, anthropologists are ideal development practitioners. Their inductive and non judgmental approach means that they enter a field situation with few preconceptions about what they will find there. Anthropologists are wary of generalizations, assumptions or foregone conclusions. They are naturally interested in people rather than things, in what people do as well as what they say. Anthropologists are aware that our arrangements, with which most of us are most comfortable and secure, are essentially arbitrary and indeed exotic to others at times. Anthropologists remind our colleagues that there are minds out there that think as well as we do, but differently.
Anthropology provides us with a way to look into other cultural worlds, to uncover and understand the shared meanings by which others act and react. it is through anthropology that we learn the things that aren’t immediately obvious ; that aren’t revealed by surveys or quick site visits. Anthropology helps us understand how a culture is patterned, why changes in one part of the pattern may resonate elsewhere, and how norms and values affect plans, policies and prescriptions. Anthropology, in short, helps us understand why actions, thoughts, and feelings make sense to people who inhabit cultural worlds often quite different from their own.
Anthropology provides a way of seeing that complements rather than challenges the kinds of knowledge generated by other disciplines. Anthropology does not conflict with these other approaches, but extends and enhances them. Learning to see through another’s eyes is not a sufficient condition for effective and successful development, but it is necessary one.
Anthropology not only uncovers different cultural worlds, it makes it possible for them to engage with each other. As a cross-cultural encounter, development is a protracted negotiation; unless both sides win, both sides lose. As in life itself, success in development means coming to terms with different ways of seeing the world and learning how to create outcomes that draw on diversity as a source of intelligence and strength. Anthropology in development can help ensure that different cultural worlds that come together in projects and programs do so in ways that are mutually acceptable and satisfactory.
Anthropologists say that in order for development to make its impact, it must involve people. Therefore right from the beginning, all individuals must be involved in the process. Therefore it is important to know the priorities of people, their pressing needs and accordingly the plan of development can be finalized. The traditional way to know about the people has been the ethnographic method where anthropologists spend a long time in the field with people end try to find out the needs of the people. But ethnographic method takes a long time as fieldwork is supposed to be lengthy and detailed. Thus, by the time the anthropologists are able to say anything specific; the conditions in the society might have changed. Therefore a new method was devised that told about the people in the field in the shortest period of time so that the development work can begin as soon as possible, without any delay.
In 1978, University of Sussex in England organized a seminar, the title of which was Rapid Rural Appraisal or ‘RRA’. The aim of Rapid Rural Appraisal was to conduct a survey which familiarized the people with the local situation in the shortest period of time.
John Beebe suggested that the time to be spent for this should be 4 to 10 weeks. And during that period we should be able to have an understanding of society so that we can start with the development work as soon as possible.
Later on Rapid Rural Appraisal was coupled with participatory approach and it became the Participatory Rural Approach or PRA. The aim of Participatory Rural Approach was to find about the local situation as rapidly as possible. The aim of Participatory Rural Approach was to engage people right from the time their study is planned. People should be involved. This will give the strength to the survey and later on, planning. Combining both of these, Rapid Rural Appraisal and Participatory Rural Approach, the approach that came out was Participatory Learning and Action. Or PLA which implies that we learn from the opinion of the people and therefore we have to give up the elitist approach, the approaches of outside according to which what ‘outsiders’ know is superior to the approaches of the ‘insiders’. This kind of approach has to be given up. The alternative is Participatory Approach i.e. the people should identify their pressing needs feel attached to the planning process, think that the project is their and would benefit them. Unless people are involved, in the entire process, nothing useful will come. The account of the combination which is arrived at using the methods of Rapid Rural Appraisal and Participatory Rural Approach is known as ‘Development Ethnography i.e. the kind of Ethnography used for development purposes. Hence in this Ethnography those aspects are given precedence which has a bearing on the development process, so that all the information which does not deal with development is not included in the work. Development Ethnography is prepared in the shortest period of time. This kind of ethnography not opposed to classical ethnography. Anthropologists say that along with Development Anthropology, the classical ethnographical work can go on. They are not contradictory. Their purpose are obviously different. The purpose of development ethnography is to initiate change. The aim is to acquire that knowledge which can help to bring about change, whereas the aim of classical ethnography is to understand the situation.
So the process of understanding the situation as a whole may go on alongside development work. Anthropologists further say that there is always a need to periodically evaluate the impact of development. Each development program, to begin with is tentative. It can always be changed as the situation changes. While the development program is going on, the anthropologists must study the impact of the program. And with the accordance with the impact of the program, the development model should be changed. In other words, the program of development should not remain the same forever. Rather it should be changed keeping in mind changing situation.
Here the proposal is that anthropologists should be including in the group of the development personnel, all those people who are concerned with development program. The anthropologist should reside with the members of the local community, study the impact of development as it occurs. These anthropologists are also known as Resident Anthropologists.
The impact is studied as it is occurring. In accordance with the opinion of these anthropologists, the development program must be changed because newer issues will come up, newer problems will surface and therefore development program must change. Anthropologists are expected to sharpen their tools to study impact of the development programs. This is called Impact Assessment Studies. So the tasks assigned to the anthropologists are
1. To collect the opinions of the people, pressing problems.
2. To help in the planning process.
3. To conduct Impact Assessment Studies and modify development program.
The last advice the anthropologists give is that each situation differs from the other; each has its own characteristics. Hence, each planning should be at the macro level. There can be certain common characteristics in all development programs. But each development program must be modified according to the local situation. And it should require an understanding of the local situations. And it would require an understanding of the social system and in this work the role of anthropologists should be paramount.

Anthropology’s Contribution to Development
Anthropology has had a major impact on development over the past few decades. Anthropology has provided, among other things, a clear and keen sense of the real, and can often be crucial for bridging gaps between policies, plans and ground level implementation. Four arenas where anthropology has contributed to development work are:-
1. Research
Anthropologists have generated a great deal of useful research as well as developing innovative research methodologies. They have won major research contracts from agencies and foundations for this work and produced many influential publications. Many of their findings have been turned into important policy recommendations.
2. Leadership
Anthropologists now play leadership roles in many development projects, often serving as team leaders or chiefs of party. They work more closely with other specialists on key development issues. For Horowitz (1996: 336) states that “today it is not uncommon for an anthropologist to lead a team composed of economists and other technical specialists, because not only is cultural expertise desired, but it is increasingly recognized that anthropologists, by virtue of the holistic focus of their discipline, are often best able to integrate the various specialist reports into a coherent set of recommendations for action”
3. Assessment
Because anthropologists have been able to show how some development policies or projects have been detrimental to the lives of supposed beneficiaries, anthropology is being increasingly used across the entire cycle of project and program development. Although initially restricted to social impact appraisal ex post facto evaluation, anthropology is no\w used with growing frequency at all phases of project development
4. Indigenous Knowledge and Local Perspectives
Finally, and perhaps most important, it is slowly becoming accepted that a beneficiary perspective in planning and implementation is not simply useful but essential to development success. Anthropologists have been able to uncover reservoirs of local skill, knowledge, experience and expertise, and to show policy makers how these resources can be used to shape or reshape the nature of planning and action in the field.

Anthropology and Project Development
Anthropology, with its emphasis on discovery rather than prescription, is an ideal catalyst in the process of creative meaning making. Its qualitative approach breaks down barriers between different stakeholders in a project, illuminates areas of relevance and helps people talk and plan meaningly across differences that would otherwise divide them.
There are 3 major levels:-
1. Framing Level
2. Management Level
3. Assessment Level
1. Framing Level
At the framing level of the project, anthropology helps identifying problem structures and stakeholder groups. Once groups have been identified, anthropology provides tools for understanding their characteristics, needs and capabilities. Finally, anthropology can help match these characteristics to their counterparts within the development agencies involved in the project development. For this, appropriate and realistic project arrangements are designed and negotiated.
2. Management Level
At the management level of the project, learning and negotiation become even more important. Anthropology helps to illuminate and guide relationships between stakeholders as project activities unfold. Anthropology also helps these groups deal with unexpected developments, new information or changes in the surrounding context of the project
3. Assessment Level
Finally at the assessment level, anthropology helps stakeholders understand outcomes in terms that make sense to everyone. If the project is successful, anthropology can be used to help ensure that benefits continue and that arrangements are sustained over time. Should the project fail or produce negative outcomes, anthropology can often help pinpoint causes, helping stakeholders design appropriate modifications.

To conclude, the relationship between anthropology and development is too important to be ignored. A new development paradigm, borrowing insights from anthropology, would be based on context as the key to successful development. Place and people would be central to the new paradigm, which would also emphasize local participation in planning and implementation, a concern for long term sustainability, and finally an explicit learning orientation.
The adoption of such a paradigm will have a profound and far reaching consequences for the way in which development work is conceived and carried out. The understanding of cultural differences and its integration into plans procedures would become a central part of development. In order to change development thinking, we will need to change our development institutions.
Anthropology will play a central role in the development and implementation of this new paradigm and in the institutional transformations that accompany it. Anthropologists must continue their engagement and development at all levels, but particularly at the policy making sphere, and find ways to make their contributions and insights both relevant to the needs of the developing world, and used by the agencies and institutions that operate there.

Human Development Index

World map indicating Human Development Index (2007)

0.950 and over
under 0.350
not available

The Human Development Index (HDI) is the normalized measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living, and GDP per capita for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to determine and indicate whether a country is a developed, developing, or underdeveloped country and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.
The index was developed in 1990 by Indian Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen and Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq, with help from Gustav Ranis of Yale University and Lord Meghnad Desai of the London School of Economics and has been used since then by the United Nations Development Programme in its annual Human Development Report. Described by Sen as a "vulgar measure", because of its limitations, it nonetheless focuses attention on wider aspects of development than the per capita income measure it supplanted, and is a pathway for researchers into the wide variety of more detailed measures contained in the Human Development Reports.
The HDI measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development:
• A long and healthy life, as measured by life expectancy at birth.
• Knowledge and education, as measured by the adult literacy rate (with two-thirds weighting) and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrollment ratio (with one-third weighting).
• A decent standard of living, as measured by the log of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita at purchasing power parity (PPP) in USD.
Each year, UN member states are listed and ranked according to these measures. Those high on the list often advertise it, as a means of attracting talented immigrants (economically, individual capital) or discouraging emigration.
An alternative measure, focusing on the amount of poverty in a country, is the Human Poverty Index.

The Human Development Index Report 2007

The report for 2007 was launched in Brasilia, Brazil, on November 27, 2007. Its focus was on "Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world." Most of the data used for the report are derived largely from 2005 or earlier, thus indicating an HDI for 2005. Not all UN member states choose to or are able to provide the necessary statistics.
The report showed a small increase in world HDI in comparison with last year's report. This rise was fueled by a general improvement in the developing world, especially of the least developed countries group. This marked improvement at the bottom was offset with a decrease in HDI of high income countries.
A HDI below 0.5 is considered to represent "low development". All 22 countries in that category are located in Africa. The highest-scoring Sub-Saharan countries, Gabon and South Africa, are ranked 119th and 121st, respectively. Nine countries departed from this category this year and joined the "medium development" group.
A HDI of 0.8 or more is considered to represent "high development". This includes all developed countries, such as those in North America, Western Europe, Oceania, and Eastern Asia, as well as some developing countries in Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the oil-rich Arabian Peninsula. Seven countries were promoted to this category this year, leaving the "medium development" group: Albania, Belarus, Brazil, Libya, Macedonia, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

On the following table, up arrows (▲) represent an increase in ranking over the previous study, while p\down arrows (▼) represent a decrease in ranking. They are followed by the number of spaces they moved. Dashes (▬) represent a nation that did not move in the rankings since the previous study.
Top thirty countries (HDI range from 0.968 down to 0.894)
Iceland 0.968 (▲ 1)
Norway 0.968 (▼ 1)
Australia 0.962 (▬)
Canada 0.961 (▲ 2)
Ireland 0.959 (▼ 1)
Sweden 0.956 (▼ 1)
Switzerland 0.955 (▲ 2)
Japan 0.954 (▲ 1)
Netherlands 0.953 (▲ 1)
France 0.952 (▲ 6)
Finland 0.952 (▬)
United States 0.951 (▼ 4)
Denmark 0.950 (▲ 1)
Spain 0.949 (▲ 6)
Austria 0.948 (▼ 1)
United Kingdom 0.946 (▲ 2)
Belgium 0.946 (▼ 4)
Luxembourg 0.944 (▼ 6)
New Zealand 0.943 (▲ 1)
Italy 0.941 (▼ 3)
Hong Kong 0.937 (▲ 1)
Germany 0.935 (▼ 1)
Israel 0.932 (▬)
Greece 0.926 (▬)
Singapore 0.922 (▬)
South Korea 0.921 (▬)
Slovenia 0.917 (▬)
Cyprus 0.903 (▲ 1)
Portugal 0.897 (▼ 1)
Brunei 0.894 (▲ 4)

India in Human Development Index

Even as India appears to be at the forefront in terms of economic growth, it continues to lag in the quality of life as measured by its Human Development Index; it remains unchanged at a low 127 among 177 countries.
In comparison, the United Nations' Human Development Report 2005, which was released here on Wednesday, has a word of praise for neighboring Bangladesh in view of the rapid human development it has achieved in spite of its moderate growth.
Despite its low ranking in the HDI carried out each year by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), India, however, has shown progress in HDI valuation, having gone up from .595 last year to .602 in this year's report.
India’s human development index 2005
HDI value
Life expectancy
at birth (years)
Adult literacy rate (% ages 15 and older)
Combined primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio (%)
GDP per capita(PPP US$)
1. Iceland (0.968)
1. Japan (82.3)
1. Georgia (100.0)
1. Australia (113.0)
1. Luxembourg (60,228)
126. Morocco (0.646)
123. Pakistan (64.6)
112. Rwanda (64.9)
120. Namibia (64.7)
115. Syrian Arab Republic (3,808)
127. Equatorial Guinea (0.642)
124. Comoros (64.1)
113. Malawi (64.1)
121. Viet Nam (63.9)
116. Nicaragua (3,674)
128. India (0.619)
125. India (63.7)
114. India (61.0)
122. India (63.8)
117. India (3,452)
129. Solomon Islands (0.602)
126. Mauritania (63.2)
115. Sudan (60.9)
123. Vanuatu (63.4)
118. Honduras (3,430)
130. Lao People's Democratic Republic (0.601)
127. Lao People's
Democratic Republic
116. Burundi (59.3)
124. Malawi (63.1)
119. Georgia (3,365)
177. Sierra Leone (0.336)
177. Zambia (40.5)
139. Burkina Faso (23.6)
172. Niger (22.7)
174. Malawi (667)

The UNDP report on human development has clearly brought out the fact that while India has moved ahead and joined the premier league of world economic growth, the accelerated growth has not resulted in a commensurate decline in poverty. On the Human Poverty Index (HPI-1), it is still ranked at 58 among 103 developing countries. "More worrying, improvements in child and infant mortality are slowing and India is now off track for these MDG (Millennium Development Goal) targets," says the report, which was launched here by the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Maxine Olson.
Taking a much broader view of a country's overall development instead of just income, the HDI seeks to combine aspects such as life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy and income. Going by the country's gross domestic product (GDP), while India's ranking is 118, the per capita GDP is pegged at $2,892.
With a life expectancy of 63.3 years, India is ranked 119, while for school enrolment (60 per cent), it is placed at 131 along with a Gender Development Index (GDI) ranking of 98. Going by the status of women in the country, India is placed at 118, in terms of seats in Parliament held by women, while on the ratio of female-earned income to male-earned income, it is ranked 126.


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