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A research strategy comprises the skills, assumptions and practices employed by the researcher in underhkmg the research. It begins with the research design focusing on the research questions and the purpose of the study. Some of the major strategies followed in the coins of qualitative inquiry are listed below: Study design; Casestudy; Ethnography, participant observation; Performance ethnography; Phenomenologyenthnomethodolgy; Grounded theory; Lifehistory; Historical method, Action and applied research; and Clinical research. Strategies of enquiry put paradigm of interpretation into motion. At the same time these also connect the researcher to specific methods of collecting and analyzing empirical materials. Each strategy has a separate history and wajls for putting the strategy into motion.

Qualitative Research and Techniques


Several techniques and methods are used by qualitativeresearches in their pursuit of data collection. They range from the interview to direct observation, genecology, case study, life history, oral history and PRA/RRAtechniques, among others. The researchers may also use a variety of m x of different methods depending upon the i nature of problem being studied, ideological and philosophical assumptions and the characteristicsof individual field worker. Since in Economics in general and development research in particular, the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) approaches are mostly used for conducting the qualitative research, we shall focus on this approach in this as well as in subsequent units of this block.


14.7.1 Concept and Features
Organisations, which adhere to participatory paradigm, have developed a number of techniques for effective interaction with communities. Two of them are Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Both these approaches are closely related to each other. They emphasise a re-orientation in the relationship between the outsider and the subjects of development activities and research (MSO 002, Block 3).

In short, PRA can be defined as a semi-structured process of learning from, with and by ruralpeople about rural conditions. It shares much with its parent, PRA, but

Qualitative Methods

is distinguished from it in practice. In RRA information is more elicited and extracted by outsiders whereas in PR4 it is more shared and owned by the local people. RRA leads to learning by outsiders in a cost effective way. PR4, on the other hand enables rural people to unravel and analyse their own situation in ways, they do not normally do, and in optimal cases to plan and act on their own premises. (Rober Chambers, 1992). In short PRA characterizethe following: 1) The roles of teacher and learner is reversed. They teach us. Rural people own more of the process and output. Investigation, presentation and analysis are done more by the people themselves, including visual sharing of information in maps, models, and diagrams. Quantification is made and presented by them. Most of the activities that we thought necessary - interviewing, transects, mapping, measuring, analysis, planning - are donejointly with villagers or by them on their own. The appraisal and learning are not just by us fiom them, but with them and by them. Rapport with villagers is primary. To achieve good rapport often requires the reorientation and relaxation of outsiders, and critical self-awareness. Rural people's suppressed incapacity and ignorance have often been an artifact of our ineptitude. With few exceptions, we - the outsider professional community - have not known how to help them to express, share and enhance their knowledge. The ignomce of ruralpeople has been a self-sustainingmyth, created and maintained by our confident and overweening clumsiness. By wagging the finger, holding the stick, sitting on the chair behind the table; dominatingand overwhelmingthought and speech; being rushed and impatient; demanding information and answers; believing that we know and they are ignorant, they are the problem and we are the solution; by failing to sit down with respect and interest and listen and learn - in these ways, we have impeded expression of knowledge and creative analysisby nualpeople. The approach and methods of PR4 recently brought together and developed tend to overcome these obstacles. The key is that outsiders should have appropriate attitudes,demeanor and behaviour. These include:


participation by the outsider; respect for rural people;

iii) interest in what they know, say and show;

N) patience, wandering around, not rushing, and not interrupting;

V) humility; and

vi) materials and methods which empower villagers to express, share, enhance and analyze their knowledge.

14.7.2 Strength of RRA Approach

In the RRA/PR4 approach, knowledge and capability of the villagers is accorded priority. Its visual methods and participatory approaches provide chances for expression to the general, silent and weaker sections also. Information gathered retains its contextual cord, which enhancesreliability. 1) Visual sharing, diagrams, maps or quantification are presented physically by rural people in a manner they readily understand, since they have created it, and that can be cross checked and amended. Successive approximation is , thus built into the process.


Ranking and scoring, rather than measuring:Of course, measurements and estimates canalso be sought. But especially for sensitive information like income or wealth, people are often willing to present relative values when they would conceal or distort absolute values. In seasonal analysis, for example, people readily use seeds or other countersto show relative amounts of income and expenditureby month. Similarly,with changesand trends over time, relative values can be given. Ranking items by p p l e ' s own criteria, and scoringdifferent items out of ten, five or three, have also proved feasible and popular.
Combinations and sequencesof methods have proved powerfill and practical. Participatorymapping and modelling, where villagers make their own map or model on the ground or on paper, lead easily and naturally to other activities, such as discussing routes for walking transects and to household listings and wealth ranking, to identifl types of people in a community, and marking other details. The approach and methods are popular and empowering. Questionnairesare often a bore for all concerned. PRAmethods are often enjoyed. We have had to learn not to interview and not to interrupt when people are being creative with a map or model, when they are thinking, and reflecting on estimates. People are no longer "respondents". They are players, performers, presenters, and own their play, performance and presentation. And the word 'W'comes into the development vocabulary.

Qualitative Research and Techniques



14.7.3 Data Collection at Different Levels

The qualitative methods provide data at the village level (social/resource maps, group discussionsetc.) and at the household level (semi-structured interviews). The data g a t h d in the qualitative approach is mainly at the village level in termsof simple averages and proportions along with the secondary data. The qualitative informationthrown up by the qualitativeapproach like preference rankings, opinions and perceptions of the rural folk etc., are also reliable mainly at the village level. Attempt can also be made to build statelregion level avenges and proportions h m the qualitative data sets for some crucial variables so as to compare the same with other approaches. It has been recognised that qualitative approach is u s e l l for extensiveuse (in view of the growing acceptance) as a reliable and cost effective alternative method of data collection at the village level. Further, these canbe aggregated for generating ratio-estimates at the state-level. The reliability of qualitativeresearch (RRA/PRA) data on the household numbers and population counts is tested against the 1991 census data of the same villages. Smallness of the sample in qualitative research restricts the'scope of generating ratio-estimates to few important variables.

14.7.4 Tools for Qualitative Data Collection

Unlike sample surveys which arejust about questionnairebased, the instruments/ tools used for g a t h e ~ informatioddata are varied in the qualitative approaches. g Keeping in view the nature of topical qualitativestudies, followingtools are identified and often used for data collection:


Social Mapping of the Village. Resource mapping/Tialsectwalk.

Qualitative Methods

iii) Wealth (well being) ranking of the households.

iv) Preference Ranking.

v) Semi-structuredinterviews.

vi) Group Discussion with selected groups and with all villagers together at the end.

vii) Experiments on cansumption pattern.

The sequencing and use of these tools is more or less in the above order except for the practical experimentsand ef'ficiency trials (if any). The experiments coincide with the semi-structured interviews of the households. The exercise on social mapping generates basic data on the layout of the village with location of different groupslcommunities i.e., the number of houses as well as households and their location. A lot of information regarding the name of the households head, agriculturalland, animals, and other physical assetsowned, family size, status indicator, possession of LPG, TV, Motorbike etc., can be gathered depending upon the requirement of the research. Such data for each household emerges fiom the consensus among villagers. Participating in the mapping exercise is recorded by one of the participantb on small coloured cards numbered in accordance with the household's location in the map drawn on the floorlground using coloured rangoli powders by the villagers. Village boys having a flair for drawing can copy the map on brown sheets using coloured marker pen for documentation purposes and also a photograph with the participants. The resource mapltransect walks are useful for providing basic understanding on types of trees dotting the village boundary, fuel wood situation, and availabilityof other relevant indicators, like cropping pattern, fuels etc. The involvement of team members in these exercises reassures the villagers about the stated research objectives as well as the teams, interest in their lifestyles and environment. In a proverbial sense, these exercises broke the ice and appear to encourage the participation ofthe villagers in the qualitative research activities. For ranking ofwell being ofhouseholds,persons h m different groupsl~~rnmunities are independently asked to sort the cards made while doing social mapping. The criterion for wealth ranking/well being ofhouseholds is chosen by them. The criteria may include:a) quantum of crop land and number of milk animalsowned, b) household size, c) type of house, d) tractorlpumpset ownership, e) motorcyclelscooter, TVI Fridge possession, f) marriage alliance struck for boyslgirls,and g) membership of village panchayat/cooperativesetc. It is interestingto note that annual income fiom all sources hardly figure in the ranking of well being done by the villagers. The procedure outline in the qualitative literature for collecting the data on ranking bf ' well-being is followed toarrive at the total score for final ranking fiom which households are picked randomly for the semi-structured interviewing. The exercise on preference ranlung provides insights into usage patteins which may be a valuable guide for related programrnes~schemes. Semi-structured interviews with individual households provides household level (micro) variation in the usage pattern and their perceptions where group discussions revealed their perceptions at the aggregate levels. The focus group in both types of discussions is on issues related to the programme.

Apa-t f i c m the above issues, the team menlbers are obliged to give a patient hearing to issues unrelated to the programme because some of the issues agitate the minds of the rural folk. For example the issue of not handling over the community hall built for SC's, from Jawahar Rozgar Yojna Funds and its use for n h g a school in the village is a bone of contention between the persons belonging to SCs and other people, One group reported it as misuse of a facility and discriminationagamst the socially disadvantaged community while the other emphasized its use for a noble purpose of educating children of all communitiestill a separate building is consttwted. In another village, a lot of land was purchased by the film personalities. Many fenced estates sprang up restricting access to villagers for grazing their animals, collectionof fuel wood etc. Some elders lament their inability to go for morning wWrituals in the changed situation. Though land prices have skyrocketed bringing them more monetary value, many villagers dread the prospect of becoming landless and homeless. In another village, the villagers regret their decision to donate land for a noble cause i.e., setting up a leprosy cure centre. In their perception over the years, the influx of ashram inmates has begun affecting their life and environment.Now, they want ashram to be shifted elsewhere and the land to be handed over back to the villagers. In another village, setting up of a sugar cooperative was initially welcomed as it provided easy access for their sugarcaneoutput, generated some employmentand rise in the income levels. But now, the villagers perceive the factory as the main pollutant of their drinking water sourcesthereby a f f h g their lives. Considaabe resentment is noticed anlong the villagers on this account. These kind of issues are clearly captured in the qualitativetype of Research studies and not in the quantitativeresearch.

Qualitative Research and Techniques

Participatory mapping: people, health, nutrition

In India, participatory mapping has shown that villagers' mental maps are more detailed and accurate than those of urban dwellers in the North who have provided much of the evidence on mental maps thanmost outsiders might have supposed. If the rapport and materials are right, maps can be diagrammed on the ground or drawn on paper in a matter of minutes to show all the houses or huts in a small village (say 10 to 15 minutes for 50 households), while larger villages take longer time. For diagramming on the ground, literacy appears to be irrelevant. Maps can be drawn on the ground with a stick, or coloured with powders. Stones, seeds and other markers can be used to add detail. Some of the best maps have been made using coloured chalks on flat cement or stone surfaces. Participatory maps can lead rapidly into the presentation of social information. Villagers in Indiaoflen mark in the castes ofhouseholdsusing colour codes. Recently, seeds have been used to present rapid censuses of villages. One villager on the outskirts of Hyderabad recently made a chalk map of some 20 households in his Hamlet. He did this on his own, with no outsider present. He then took only about 5 minutes to place on it the numbers of men, women and children in each household, using three different types of seed, while others who were watching cross checked and confirmed. kiealtl~ mapping has also been developed by John Devavararn of SPEECH, James Mascarenhas of MYRADA. and Same Joseph and Bhakthar Solomon of Action Aid. Villagers use seeds, bindis (the small spots women wear on their foreheads), stones or other markers to indicate households with pregnant women, persons who are handicapped, malnourished children, or wiklows. Relative wealth and poverty
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Qualitative bierhods

A recent innovatioil is the use of small inodels of houses, wells, hand pumps and

temples, developed by Joseph and Solomon. These are arranged by villagers in their correct positions. In Iyyanhili village, Jaglur Tduk, ChitradurgaDistrict, where this was first done, the roofs of houses were colour-coded with green for thatch, black for black tiles, and red for red tiles. The model was used to identify, house by house, the nanles of household heads (later used for wealth ranking), households with no adult literates (for focusing an adult literacy programme), the educational status of children in each household, children under one year of age (for health follow up), immunization status, pregnant women (for health education),and cattle ownership. By marking details on the model houses, a permanent record, visible to all the villages, is being kept and used for planning and monitoring programmes.
Seasonal analysis

Villagers in India have shown ability to estimate and rank conditions that vary seasonally. Festivals, major seasons, months, or kartiks (fortnighgy periods distinguished and naned especially during the monsoon) are used to definetimes of year and intervals. Most commonly months have been used, represented by 12 stones. Villagers use seeds other counters or sticks to estimate and rank conditions as numbers of days of rain, amount of rain, soil moisture, numbers of days (or proportion out of 10) of agricultural labour in each month, income, expenditure, debts taken, food availability, and so on. When presented as a histogram, this information points clearly to the months of greatest difficulty and vulnerability. The prevalence of diseases by season has been one of the conditions indicated. In one case near Madurai (personalcoinmunication John Devavararn),villagers indicated by month the number of cases of different diseases during the previous year.
Ranking of wealth and well being

Wealth ranking is an ingenious and simple method of eliciting relative wealth or wellbeing in a community.Knowledgeable infonnants are presented with slips ofpaper, one for each household, and asked to place them in piles according to their wealth or poverty, or according to their well-being or ill being, depending on local criteria. The piles, usually three to six in number, are then checked. The criteria used can be elicited by asking, for example, why each household in the worst-off pile, was placed there. Four to five different criteria (far more subtle and realistic than a crude poverty line) usually emerge for the rankings, and respondents weigh these mentally inmalung their allocations to wealth or well-being groups. Wealth ranking is increasingly being used by NGOs in India to identifirthe poorest and those most at risk.
Matrix ranking and scoring

Matrix ranking and scoring method is used for assessing entities in a class, such as fodder trees, varieties of a crop, types of firewood, domestic animals, or even political parties and political leaders. The entities are selected, their good and bad qualities listed to elicit criteria, and then ranked or scored for each criterion. This method generates insight into other people's criteria and preferences. Rural women, for example, readily indicate their preferences for different he1 woods on the basis of availability, ease of collection, and quality & quantity of smoke in the kitchen. Although, matrix ranking and scoring has not been used much directly in health and nutrition, but there are potential applications of this method for assessing different foods, methods of cooking, fuel types, treatments for diseases, and sources of

Time lines and trends

Qualitative Research and Techniques

Time lines establish well known past events and provide a framework for discussing changes that have taken place. As example, changes in the composition of diets can be quantified using counters. In one case, an old woman showed with small stones the main staples she ate as a girl, and those she eats now, using 1 2stones for her staples as a girl. when she ate more, and only eight for now, when she eats less. Trends can be shown a11destimated in various ways. Presumably, such health and nutrition-related aspects of life as changes in diet, the prevalence of diseases, treatments, costs of treatment, and ways of raising resources for treatment, could be analyzed. Indeed, at many places, these have already been made standard questions in health and nutrition appraisal. Check Your Progress 2

How do the strategies of qualitative inquiry affect the method of datalmaterial collection?

2 What is the difference between PRA and RRA approachofqualitative research? )


Name the various tools that are used for collection of qualitative data.

14.7.5 Techniques of Data Collection

The process of information generation involves a combination of various research methods and techniques. These techniques vary from one research study to another. There is no standard set of techniqu& that can be used in all circumstances, and a deliberate selection of a combination of tools should be used. Nonetheless, data must be collected fiom secondary as well as primary sources.

In the nutritioncontext, various factors influence the nutritional status of an individual and the community as a whole. Among these are factors associated with sociocultural and environmental background, economic, health, hygiene and agricultural patterns, and food accessibility and food policies. Therefore, it is important to undentand as closely as possible those limiting &tors that may be open to intervention to affect the well-being of the no~ulatinn. diamammatir renresentatinn nfthe A

Qualitative Methods

factors i~ltliisncing "problem under consideration," which is ofien a colllplex the network. is a critical step to data collection. The network representing the different interactions (and often feedbacks to causes and effects of malnutrition) forms the basic tool for the intormation generation process. To understand these interlinked factors, dift'erent techniques should be used, and these will vary with the research objectives.

Secondary Data Collection

Collection of information fro111 secondaq sourccs is vital prior to the initiation of actual kield work. Various secondary solirccr,should be tapped. depending upon the objectives of the particular research. Scconda~y sources includc: Kcview papers on the issue for the pmicular region under study. Published goven~n~ent dataJstatistics. Discussions with selected experts fiom various disciplines. Jnfonnal discussionswith selected key-informants,which may constitutevillage leaders, members of local voluntary agencies or organizarions, local health personnel, school teachers, etc. Maps and aerial photographs can also be used to mark the region for study and assess the topographic and other charac~eristics the area selected. of A knowledge of existing propnmes for community development, both regional and national. PRIMARY DATA COLLECTION

Semi-structured Interviews
At best these are conducted by developing an outline or a guideline in order to maintain the direction of the interview. Such a guideline should indicate the major issues to be covered in the interview and should be referred to frequently during the process of the interview, which is an mfonnal one. The interviewee is allowed to put forward hidher views on a particular issue and the role of the interviewer is to listen and maintain focus and direction to prevent the conversation from going off on a tangent. The most crucial part of such an interview is to develop a rapport with the community, and this is most ofien establishedby listening to the people talk about their problems rather than suggesting solutions.

Group Discussions
Group discussions have a special advantage over personal interviews in the sense that a larger body of information can be collected, covering larger groups of people, in a short time. Group discussions are also useful to cross check information. Also, certain informationthat may be sensitive is more easily obtained in larger gatherings where the source cannot be pin-pointed to one individual alone. Such information ofien relates to misuse of funds and resources or to maltreatment or violence directed against certain groups of people. However, se1ec:tions of the group should be done carehlly and it must be homogeneous in nature.

Focus Group Discussions

Qualitative Research and Techniques

Focus group discussionsare particularly usefbl to elicit infom~ation regarding social customs, food patterns and behaviour, infant feeding practices, and also local food fads and taboos. Small clusters of five to six women may be sufficient for this purpose. Group and focus group discussions have an advantage of the self-correcting mechanism within the group, whereby an individual who gives an overly favourable picture of herself is immediately corrected by others in the group. Participants for focus group discussioils may be selected at random following brief interviews. However, experience in India indicatesthat focus groups develop without prior planning during household interviews. Seldom is it possible to avoid men folk joining in on such sessions, particularly when the topic relates to child care and infant feeding practices. It is best, therefore, to form focus group sessions exclusively for men, which are easy to organise either at the local tea shop or at the bus stop.
Direct Observations

Direct observationsof all major activities may not be possible with RRA. However, taking the time to just walk around in the commulity, observing activities and asking questions at opportune moments, may yield important information. Lack of cornlation between actions and beliefs may sometimes be revealed through such observations. The best way to study the socio-cultural patterns, customs and local behaviour of the community is by simply being there. Direct observationsare valuable for checking differences between knowledge and actual practices. Direct observation of the nutritional status of children, particularly those under five, for possible signs of malnutrition through looking at feeding practices, eating habits and apparent use of unhygienic child-care techniques can often reveal much more than health centre records.
Key Informants

Key informants can be a major source of information. People from the community who, because of official position or informal leadership have access to information about the community rather than individual problems are good resources. Key informants can be government officials, local health service personnel, traditional healers, community leaders (elected or self-appointed), local shop owners and members of non-governmental organizations. However, there are well-known dangers in associating with leaders who for some reason might be biased against a certain group of people and who may express personal views rather than those ofthe commullity.Also. associating with local leaders who most often form the elite group in a village may result in creating fear in the community, and the poor who are most often exploited by thls group may not express their frank views and opinions. It is iinportant to se k out women and paor households so as to offset any bias. These people are o n less visible and rarely get an opportunity to talk to outsiders and express their problems and needs.
Village or Community Profile

Sin~ply being around in the community and observing facilitatesinformation gathering. In the initial days, when efforts are being made to develop a rapport with the people