Research Handbook on Community Development
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Research Handbook on Community Development

Edited by Rhonda Phillips, Eric Trevan and Patsy Kraeger

This timely Research Handbook offers new ways in which to navigate the diverse terrain of community development research. Chapters unpack the foundations and history of community development research and also look to its future, exploring innovative frameworks for conceptualizing community development. Comprehensive and unequivocally progressive, this is key reading for social and public policy researchers in need of an understanding of the current trends in community development research, as well as practitioners and policymakers working on urban, rural and regional development.
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Chapter 23: Re-imagining democratic research processes in community-based development: a case for photovoice

Camille Sutton-Brown


Community-based development (CBD) models have a primary objective of mobilizing the community via locally initiated development activities (Mansuri and Rao, 2003). This is achieved through focused efforts on community capacity-building by involving the beneficiaries in most, if not all, aspects of program design, implementation and evaluation activities. This encourages the beneficiaries to assume more responsibility for their community than was permitted in top-down development models, allowing the resulting initiatives to be direct reflections of the community’s self-identified needs and desires. The problem, however, is that though many international development practitioners have shifted to such participatory models for program delivery, the research methods that they use within these practices continue to reflect a top-down approach. Thus, a participatory research model is more appropriate to use within CBD to facilitate better alignment between the program delivery and research models. Participatory research, developed in response to critiques of the power dynamics inherent in traditional research methods, is a relatively new model within the social sciences, though it is now increasing in popularity and being used in a variety of ways (Moletsane et al., 2007). In these research models the participants assume greater decision-making agency than in traditional researcher-directed approaches, and the research process itself is considered to be beneficial to the participants.

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