Foundations of Social Research and Reasoning

Reflective development practitioners need to make sense of data, analysis, reports and claims and are expected to use these in various practical contexts. They are also required to generate relevant knowledge for interpretation and action. Therefore, it is critical that the MA Development programme builds an understanding of how development knowledge is generated in the first place; modes of reasoning and the processes through which evidence is produced, and claims made; the specificities and generalities of knowledge; and usability of such knowledge in contextually relevant ways. Furthermore, it is particularly important for students to understand this in the context of claims and counter-claims of development in India through its vast repository of data, reports and studies. At the same time, this needs to be complemented by an understanding of the dominant methods by which such knowledge is produced, and their legitimate spaces in the architecture of knowledge. Finally, students should acquire the ability to use these methods in practical contexts in order to become effective actors in the development space.

The course will aim to achieve the above objectives in the following ways. Firstly, it will introduce students to various development related data, graphics, texts and reports pertaining to India, and enable them to interpret these data through the logic of reasoning and claims-making. Second, it will enable students to understand and appreciate different methodological approaches used in research, and the nature of knowledge, analysis and claims that arise out of these methods and in doing so, learn to apply these appropriately in relevant contexts. Lastly, this course will guide students through the process of identifying a problem and developing a research question which lends itself to empirical analysis. Another important aspect of this course is to develop ethical sensitivity to the research process in general and ethical guidelines of research with human subjects in particular.