Measuring Capability using the KJ method with the epistemology of the Rashomon effect

HAYAKAWA, RIEKO (2016). 'Measuring Capability using the KJ method with the epistemology of the Rashomon effect' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

abstract This paper discusses the possibility of using the KJ method for measuring the Capability of ICT4D (Information and Communication Technology for Development). It will also look at the “Rashomon effect” from an epistemological perspective to understand and analyse different views from each people on the same event.   The KJ method was developed by the Japanese ethnographer Jiro Kawakita as the result of interpreting ethnographic field data on social organization and ritual in Nepal. This method was applied to organize complex, immeasurable, idiosyncratic, non-repetitive, behavioral, qualitative data collected in the field. The KJ method also conformed to the general rule of logic, as neither deduction nor induction, but abduction (a concept which originates from Aristotle). Kawakita also emphasized that the KJ method enabled people to free themselves from a priori assumptions, preconceived notions, rigid formalisms and dogmas, or unrealistic hopes or utopianism. Kawakita believed that the KJ method had the potential to liberate people to develop their full humanity as whole persons. For my PhD research on ICT4D using Capability Approach, I applied the KJ method to measuring the Capability of ICT users, ICT policy makers and ICT providers whom I interviewed in Vanuatu from July to August 2014. From open ended interview with 19 samples I picked up key words then categorized in 3 parts – Subject - such as health education, Activities - such as rescue, sending money, and With whom and where - such as family, overseas. This survey showed us how Capability was chosen and achieved using ICT.   I also examined the concept of the “Rashomon effect” which explains and looks at the different views from individuals on the same event. The "Rashomon" effect originated with the famous Kurosawa movie “Rashomon”. The anthropologist Karl G. Heider’s (1988) examined ethnographers different views on the same events in his paper “The Rashomon Effect: When Ethnographers Disagree”. In his paper Heider suggested to focus on the “the broader question of what we need to know to understand an ethnography” and “what we need to include in our own ethnographies” (Heider 1988: 90). This suggestion may apply to operationalize Capability. Heider examined the ethnographic disagreements between anthropologists examining the same society by referring to this movie and analyzing how and why they held different views. He looked at four categories. 1. Someone is wrong, 2. They are looking at different cultures or subculture, 3. They are referring to the same culture at different times and 4. They are looking differently at the same culture. For my PhD case study in Vanuatu, the 19 interviewees all have different backgrounds and situations and they provided different stories about their Capability using ICT.  However, by looking into these different stories with the concept of “Capability”, i.e. “What you can do?”, we can found common elements from these different stories.    

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