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David J. O’Brien
David J. O’Brien
M. Rezaul Islam, Niaz Ahmed Khan, Siti Hajar Abu Bakar Ah, Haris Abd Wahab and Mashitah Binti Hamidi
Fieldwork/data collection is one of the most important parts in the research process, and it is particularly important for social sciences research. A number of aspects that need to be considered by a researcher before starting data collection include: ethical permission from the concerned ethical body/committee, informed consent, contract with different stakeholders, field settings, time allocation and time management, field leading, data collection, contextual and cultural diversities, community settings, socioeconomic and psychological patterns of the community, political pattern, rapport building between data collectors and respondents, permission to access community, language and mode of data collection, power relations, role of gatekeepers, privacy and confidentiality issues, layers of expectations among researchers/respondents/ funding organization, data recording (written, memorization, voice recording and video recording), and so on. Many aspects are very difficult to understand before going into the field. Sometimes, a researcher’s previous experience about a particular community may help to gain field access, but it may be difficult to assess the field in advance due to rapid changes within people’s livelihoods and other shifts in the community. The change of a political paradigm sometimes seems also to be a challenge at the field level. We believe that although technological innovation has benefited some aspects of the data collection of fieldwork in social research, many other dimensions (mentioned above) of fieldwork endure unchanged.
If we want to address landscape democracy, we need an awareness of the different frames for understanding democratic legitimacy as developed and discussed in political theory. This chapter is about the place of civil society in different contemporary approaches to democracy and the consequences this creates for democratic planning. After presenting four ideal typical approaches to democracy – the liberal, participatory, deliberative and radical – the place of civil society in a generic planning process is discussed. The claim is made that although planning processes that follow a liberal democratic framework may qualify as democratic at a theoretical level, the understanding of a landscape as ‘an area, as perceived by people’ implies a necessity to include elements of participatory, deliberative and possibly radical democracy to gain democratic legitimacy. The chapter concludes by pointing to possible measures public planners may take to enhance democratic planning.