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Table 1.1 the broad association between philosophies of science, paradigms of development and the broad approaches covered in this book.
Broad paradigm of development studies
Broad approaches covered in this book
Historical approaches (pre-1950s)
Data from government ministries
Classical-traditional approaches (mainly 1950s/1960s)
Radical political economy-dependency (1960s onwards)
Data from international agencies
Film, images and photography
Alternative and another development (1980s onwards)
Participatory research methods
Diaries and case studies
...that have been associated with different theories of development are also still in currency. As a broad generalization, early approaches stressed development as economic growth and therefore emphasized quantitative approaches. Later, more humanistic approaches to development saw the rise of participatory and qualitative lines of investigation, with the aim being to put fewer words into respondents’ mouths and to listen more effectively.
Broadly speaking, the earliest approaches in any discipline tend to be empiricist. They subscribe to the view that we find out about the world by observing what has happened and how it is structured. In development studies this has meant looking at what history tells us about how countries and regions have developed and changed through time. As shown in Table 1.1, early and continuing approaches in the subject, therefore, have been associated with collecting data out in the field – for examples doing farm and rural surveys, urban and village assessments and inventories. Of course, just as we were arguing above, empirical data are still frequently collected as part of development research, whether collected in the field or from national censuses or data collated by government ministries or international agencies. They are often the ‘staples’ of basic and applied or practical research. In most areas of intellectual endeavor, over time, pure empiricism tends to be replaces by…
…raise awareness of such issues. Similarly a lot of research is now done in collaboration or in partnership with either academics or various types of institution based in development countries.
The important point is that approaches to data collection in development studies remain as diverse as philosophies of development themselves. And this is even more so today, in an era associated with what may be referred to as post-structuralism and postermodernity. The world is significantly more global and more complex than ever before – and it is argued that singular theories and conceptualizations are too limiting by far. Meta-theories and narratives have been replaced by a multiplicity of conceptualizations and approaches. Hence, students of development studies, defined broadly, need to be aware of the wide variety of approaches that are open to them, before embarking on their intensive work. This explains the raison d’etre of Doing Development Research.