Researching for Change

Negotiating Boundaries and Borders

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1283-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-395-2

ISSN: 1042-3192

Publication date: 15 March 2007


Change is integral to the concept of development. Research in the development process is therefore implicitly, if not explicitly, directed to achieving change. What is important is how far development researchers see themselves as agents of change. In some cases they are helped by methodologies such as action research and participatory action research (PAR) that have change as integral to the research design. However for qualitative research methods in general there is no necessary connection with change. In fact, for many qualitative methods the aim of the researcher is to have as little impact on the research process and the people being researched as possible. In much ethnographic work, the research scene is to be represented in as “natural” a way as possible. This is very different from the development context where a process of change is assumed to be ongoing, or is encouraged to be so. The role of the researcher in relation to change has become even more marked with the advent of more participatory approaches to development. Research participants are no longer seen as passive objects of research but as active agents in creating their own knowledge and action.


Mellor, M. (2007), "Researching for Change", Smith, M. (Ed.) Negotiating Boundaries and Borders (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-195.

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