Research on development is normative, engaged and seeks to make a difference since it focuses on the excluded, on power relations and aims at the empowerment of the voiceless and increasingly on the 'pedagogy of the powerful'. How aware and reflexive are researchers of their own biases and positionalities? This paper, based on five years work of the Citizenship DRC, provides theoretical and personal insights on issues related to methods, ethics, positionality, reflexivity and power.
The paper emerged out of a reflection and synthesis process during and after the first round of the DRC. In the period 2003-2005 a small methods group emerged. Researchers from Mexico, Brazil, India and the UK began to critically reflect on the methods that they had employed whilst conducting research on participation and citizenship. In particular, it was felt that there were many ethical dimensions to the research that had implications for knowledge generation, development practice and the research participants. Furthermore, researchers felt that a research programme such as the DRC should try to combine theoretical and policy relevant reflections around questions of citizenship, participation and accountability with a concrete engagement with the politics of research and praxis. This paper is a result of those reflections.
IDS Working Paper 288, Sussex, UK: DRC on Citizenship, Participation and Accountability, ISBN: 978 1 85864 662 6, 37 pp.