Exploring values and development priorities at the individual and local levels

Wall, Gareth (2016). 'Exploring values and development priorities at the individual and local levels' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract This doctoral research study looks into how, despite the acknowledgement of the importance of the individual within both UN development declarations and the influential human development and capabilities approach, the values and priorities of the individual drawn from their own lived realities have been under-represented in informing and driving development activities. I argue using the literature on deliberative democracy that this has contributed to the alienation of citizens from development activities and contributed to undermining the democratic legitimacy of such activities. This paper critically examines the human development literature which goes a significant way in championing the individual as the central subject of development, but all too often falls short of considering the expressed and revealed values and priorities of the individual when operationalised, such as through the influential Human Development Reports. We undertook a small field survey which inculded 65% of adult (18+) in the 280 households (527 individuals) within ward three of Kottathara panchayat (village) in Wayanad District, northern Kerala, South India, the research pilots a method collating individual priorities to help inform local development. The method drew priorities from an analysis of the local ward meetings (Gram sabha) over the last two as well as conversation with community leaders (elected representatives, doctors, teachers, and religious leaders) to produce a set of 28 issues that were common within the ward and asked each adult to identify those that were most important and those that were least important to them. The reasons for the chose and suggestion of how to improve the issue were recorded.  The preliminary analysis using Q- methodology of the finding of fieldwork undertaken in Feb/ March 2016 shows that whilst in the ward, there are some clear common issues across the commnities, genders and age groups - such as access to drinking water and the state of the roads and the issue of alcoholism other value driven priorities are clearly informed by personal charateristics, such as the freedom of women to work after marriage and the ability of older people to continue to work. A second round of fieldwork is planned to look at capturing change in priorities over time - planned for in a couple of years to coincide with the electoral cycle. At this stage I'm keen to seek advice from senior academics who have looked to operationalise the capabilties approach as to the best way both to present the analysis and for the next steps in the research.   

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