Methods for Social Research and Action

Deepens understanding of the various methods for social research.

This course builds on foundational competencies developed in CC4 (Foundations for Social Research and Reasoning) and aims to help students deepen those competencies by applying them in different contexts of research and action, ranging from survey design to participatory and community based methods. 

For the purpose of this course, development action refers to a broad range of individual, collective and state actions for desirable social change. These actions often revolve around various kinds of organisational and individual works, often categorized as charity, welfare, entitlements and rights, resistance, etc. In addition, sites of development action can be very diverse, ranging from rural to urban; from community to state or market; they can be social, economic political or ecological, or focus on specific constituencies such migrants, women,
children, refugees, etc. Therefore, meaningful development practice demands a combination of
relevant knowledge, as well as a diverse skillset— mobilisation, communication, activism,
mapping, planning, monitoring, designing, evaluation, networking, etc.

This course aims to achieve three objectives. Firstly, the course will enable students to acquire basic skills in select social research methods such as a baseline survey, in-depth interviews, biography, social mapping, focus group discussions etc. This will involve guiding students through the entire research process after framing of a research question – review of existing literature, selecting method(s), developing questionnaire/​interview/​FGD guides (as appropriate), collection and analysis of data. Secondly, the course will help students gain familiarity with some common skills of development practice, such as community mobilisation, PRA, participatory stakeholder mapping, participatory problem analysis, institutional mapping, landscape mapping and so on.
Finally, students will be encouraged to think imaginatively to identify new mental maps of change, develop alternate collective modes of action, and collective imaginations of alternative socially just, sustainable development alternatives and trajectories (using approaches such as plays, songs, stories, photo-exhibitions or others).