Transforming Knowledge Into Praxis | UPSC Important Notes & Study Material

Notes By-
Sachin Gupta
Cleared UPSC 2017 with AIR-3



Anthropology is practiced in a wide range of settings. But, what the
anthropologists are capable of is known very less to outsiders due to prevailing
stereotypes about them. The different roles played by the practitioners include:
working for governmental organisations and private organisations as regular
employees or consultants, joining an advocacy group, or activist group, starting
an NGO etc. Many anthropologists are employed in international aid
organisations. The strength of anthropology has been in generalisations drawn
from cross cultural comparisons, qualitative studies, holistic approach, and
looking at situations from the point of view of people. The anthropologists who
want to become practitioners should equip themselves with the requisite tools.

The tools range from general social science research tools to specialised
anthropological techniques. For a practicing anthropologist more familiarity with
quantification, statistical models, communication skills, understanding
organisational structures, ability to undertake macro analyses is required. In the
past, anthropologists imparted training to officers recruited to colonial civil
services. ‘Action Anthropology’ envisages on bringing awareness in people so
that the people are equipped with discerning abilities to take their own decisions.

This is closely related to what is called as ‘Capacity Development’ today where
people are equipped with capabilities to deal with their own problems and issues.
Capacity development leads to self reliance among people. Capacity development
reduces the dependency of people on external agencies, leading to sustainable
development. Capacity building has been the forte of anthropologists especially
due to their immense knowledge of grass roots level situations. In the context of
state-people interface, protecting the interests of the people through policy
recommendations and suggestions on the basis of studies carried out by them
has been a major preoccupation of anthropologists. Specialised skills are a must
to participate in policy making, planning, implementation and evaluation of
development programmes. Experts suggest that anthropologists should take more
interest in understanding the nature of state, its policy making, and planning
process. In democratic form of governments the role of civil society organisations
is indispensible. Society interacts with state through these organisations.

On the other hand, states are increasingly resorting to implement their programs by relying
on these organisations or in partnership with them. As such anthropologists are
compelled to take note of civil society organisations. Anthropologists take interest
in the functioning of these organisations, their objectives and methodologies.
Anthropologists do start their own NGOs to help rural and tribal people. Many
NGOs employ anthropologists or involve them as consultants in their activities.

In countries like United States, many anthropology departments offer courses
and degrees in what is called as ‘Public Anthropology’ which prepare students
for a variety of public roles. The three units in this block will provide an
understanding of the tools required for practicing anthropologists, the basic ideas
behind capacity building, and the participation of anthropologists in state and
civil society organisations.

Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
Tools for Professional UNIT 1 TOOLS FOR PROFESSIONAL Practice
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Research Methods Used by Practicing Anthropologists
1.3 Keys for a Successful Practice
1.4 Summary

Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives

After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Ø understand different tools required by practicing anthropologists;
Ø learn the use of different tools in appropriate contexts; and
Ø use the tools to become a successful practitioner.


Practicing anthropologists use a wide array of research methods and theoretical
approaches to address problems in their professions. The tools for professional
practice are those methods and approaches adopted by practitioners for solving
problems and achieving goals in their organisations or projects. As described in
earlier chapters the general methodology of practicing anthropology can be
understood in three interconnected activities. These are obtaining information,
formulating policies or plans, and finally action.
These three activities are
interrelated. Information is obtained through research. This information is used
to formulate policies, and finally the policies guide action. Obtaining information
is the diagnosis step of practicing research where the situation is defined or
problem is identified through a hypothesis and information is gathered using
interview and focus group discussion. Formulating plan is the goal setting and
analysis step which puts together a guide for the action. Lastly action tool is used
in decision/plan implementing step where action is directed at some practical
goal. In this unit, we will describe the different tools or methods used by
professional or practicing anthropologists in investigating problems, formulating
strategies and conducting action to solve issues of societies. This they do by
being part of any professional organisation, institution, government body, nonprofit
organisations etc. Other than methods, there are certain quintessential and
strategic ways by which the practitioner can be successful in her/his ventures.

These two are elaborately covered in this unit.

Transforming Knowledge


In professional practice the practicing anthropologists are required to extend
knowledge and skills within a practical environment. The following research
methods can be utilised by practitioners during problem solving procedures to
build a good practice.

Focus Group Discussions

Focus group is understood as a group which is structured for a group interview
to gather detailed opinions and knowledge about a particular topic from selected
participants. Generally the people selected in this group are the ones who are
directly affected by the issue or who have particular experience or knowledge or
interest about the subject of research. A trained facilitator/moderator stimulates
the ‘focus group discussion’ using techniques such as questioning and
summarising, to uncover concerns and opinions held by groups of people about
particular issues. Questions are put forward to participants in a way which allow
the freedom to interact and share their answers with the group present.
Such a
process, i.e., of throwing off a series of meticulously framed predetermined
queries, leads to a smooth and uninhibited discussion. In this, ideally it is observed
that what the participants say or share motivates and creates an impact on what
the other members of the group think and impart. Some people even find
themselves changing their thoughts and opinions during the group discussion.
The concerns and opinions in the FGD are synthesised during data analysis. The
best course of action is decided from this alone or combined with quantitative
data such as surveys, information guides etc. Focus groups can be self-contained,
or can be used as an adjunct to other research methods such as individual
interviewing, participant observation, surveys or experiments (Morgan, 1997
and Wilkinson, 1998a). According to Vaughn et al (1996) it usually contains the
two following core elements:
1) A trained moderator who sets the stage with prepared questions or an
interview guide;
2) The goal of eliciting participants’ feelings, attitudes and perceptions about a
selected topic.
Focus groups were first used in the social sciences to investigate group dynamics
and influential interaction. In the last decade, it was moulded into a popular
marketing research tool, conducting group interviews with consumers and clients
to improve products and services and make predictions about what would sell.
Today, many organisations conduct focus groups to improve member, employee,
or client services and to evaluate changes. The concept of focus groups has now
become increasingly popular as a tool in applied social research.
Practicing anthropologists use focus group discussion to collect information for
defining or identifying a problem as well as for conducting a need assessment or
evaluating a program. The focus group process provides a structured, organised
method to the practitioner to collect valuable input from organisation members.
It is a quick, effective way to stimulate new ideas and simultaneously build interest
and commitment to change. Focus group data reveals more information than do
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surveys. Focus group discussions provide detailed qualitative data, enabling
practitioners to understand an issue in greater depth. Any practitioner who needs
information about the satisfaction and opinions of employees, members, clients,
or consumers can use focus groups. It evaluates employee support services, such
as health, facilities, child care, motivational programs, and safety. The purpose
of the focus group process is to gather employee input on the preferences and
expectations. Members are asked to comment on options and provide suggestions
for specific improvements. Member participation in focus group discussions helps
to promote system’s development and improve the quality of the entire process.
Participatory Methods of Interviewing
We can define interviews as a methodical and logical way of conversing to people
and taking note of it. Here questions are asked by the interviewer to obtain
information from the interviewee. It’s a way for participants to get involved and
talk about their views. For a practicing anthropologist data collection is an
essential component to gather information about the problem. For such data
collection, a practitioner has to use the interview method in any problem solving
situation. Again data collection has its complexities and demands. The practitioner
has to know and select the appropriate method for addressing the needs of the
research question. Then, the practitioner has to make a decision and choose the
right method for that study. We can say without doubt that participatory methods
of interviewing should be adopted by practitioners for good results.
Any improved practice includes an analysis of the situation which must be shared
and owned by everyone in any organisation. Deliberation and finally conformity
on the goals, purposes, preferred results, appraisal of results, action strategies,
and assessment plans and means are then to be made. This paramount task can
be acquired with the respondents giving their views and ideas to queries asked
by practitioners with the use of methods like surveys, questionnaire etc. Among
the participatory methods of interviews, semi-structured interviews and focus
groups are the most often used instruments by practicing anthropologists for
gathering the views of participants on certain topics and issues. At the preliminary
phase of the evaluation process, techniques which are carried out are related to
participatory listening, observing and use of visuals. These processes create the
foundation for the outline of in depth questions for semi-structured interviews to
be done on focus groups.
We have already discussed focus group in the beginning. Semi-structured
interviews are non-uniform and are often employed in qualitative inquiry. The
interviewer does not do research to test a specific hypothesis (David, & Sutton,
2004, p. 87). The researcher has a list of key themes, issues, and questions to be
covered. In semi-structured interviews, the sequence of the questions can easily
be altered, subject to what course the interview takes. Here though an interview
guide is kept for clarity, questions designed at the spur of the moment can be
asked depending on the situation. In such interviews the researcher has the chance
to probe or examine the attitudes and ideas of the respondents. Probing is a way
for the interviewer to explore new paths which are not initially considered (Gray,
2004, p. 217). The researcher conducting semi-structured interviews is a freer
one than conducting a structured interview (Kajornboon, 2004, p. 75) in which
the interviewer does not have to adhere to a detailed interview guide. Patton
(2002, p. 343) recommends to “ explore, probe, and ask questions that will
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
elucidate and illuminate that particular subject to build a conversation within a
particular subject area, to word questions spontaneously, and to establish a
conversational style but with the focus on a particular subject that has been
The strengths of semi-structured interviews are that, which the practitioner can
prompt and probe deeper into the given situation. For example, when the
interviewer inquires about health issues in a village, some respondents are more
open and outward and others may be shy to reveal some personal issues about
health. Hence, with this type of interview the interviewers are able to probe
deeper or ask more detailed questions about the respondents’ situations and not
adhere only to the interview guide (Kajornboon, 2004, p. 75). In addition, the
practitioner can explain or rephrase the questions if respondents are unclear about
the questions. Thus the participatory methods of interviewing: (a) improves
practice; (b) helps practitioners participate and develop an understanding of their
own problems and practices; and (c) helps practitioners to bring desirable, rational
and critical improvement in workplace situations.
Quantification means the estimation of a particular individual feature, like, quality,
personality, trait etc., of an object or event understood in terms of numbers based
on a random scale. It is an integral part of practicing anthropology. In practicing
anthropology for any method solving the problem logic of inclusion and exclusion
is applied. The ‘include and exclude’ options make it quantitative on the surface.
The data gathered by practitioners through empirical observation and
experimentation is quantified using statistical techniques such as regression
analysis to draw conclusions from it. Thus quantification deals with data in the
form of numbers and uses mathematical operations to investigate their properties.
The practicing anthropologist employs different data collection techniques,
including questionnaire, interview, and observation. Data, however, is not ‘pre
given’ in anthropology. It is a part of processes of interpretation in society.
Quantification can come into the picture when a practitioner has already collected
the data/information for his problem. Now to formulate any plan the analysis of
this data is necessary. In practicing anthropology, people are the focus of the
study, particularly as social groups or as individuals. Hence the data collected by
practitioners are expressed mostly in the form of words, descriptions, accounts,
opinions, feelings etc., rather than as numbers. The practitioners can here use the
method of quantification assuming that the phenomenon or problem being studied
is quantifiable. This means that the problem has qualities that can be measured
at nominal, ordinal, interval or ratio levels. In some cases a superficially
unquantifiable matter can be quantified by requesting the subjects to grade
something on a scale built by the researcher. Definitions of ‘violence’ are already
affected, for example, by perceptions in society of what violence is (Mark
Balnaves and Peter Caputi 2001). Hence an unobservable variable may be
quantified by replacing it with a proxy variable with which it is highly correlated,
for example; number of rapes or murders can be used as a proxy for violence in
the society.
Crucial statistical factors can be dug out by practitioners with the use of
quantification. This is done with the help of mini images which permits for the
quantification of precise findings. This lets the practitioners to cooperatively
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categorise, assemble, and sort out fragmented items constructed on the worked
out statistics. The various uses of the process can be enlisted as:
1) Making comparisons.
2) Examining relationships.
3) Making forecasts.
4) Testing hypotheses.
5) Constructing concepts and theories.
6) Exploring and explaining the problem.
Action Research
Action research is a process of systematic reflection, enquiry and action carried
out by individuals about their own professional practices (Frost, 2002, p. 25). It
is applied research, carried out by practitioners who have themselves identified
a need for change or improvement (Bell, 2005, p. 8). Action research methods
are becoming increasingly popular as a mode of research among practitioners.
For practitioners who are concerned to study their own practice, action research
provides an excellent medium for this to take place. It enables practitioners to
explore relationships between theory and practice. The core task of action research
is to enable practitioners to learn features of practice which includes either
formulating an original thought or in evaluating and contemplating on the
efficacies of prevailing practice in order to better it. Action research denotes
several meanings. It can be varyingly seen as an expression, activity, investigation,
method, series of occurrences, adaptable curved procedure and is recurrent.
Some characteristics of action research as stated by Patrick J. M. Costello (2011)
1) It has a practice-oriented, problem solving emphasis.
2) It is carried out by individuals, professionals, practitioners and educators.
3) It involves being respectful of participants’ knowledge and understanding.
4) It brings together theory and practical knowledge.
5) It involves rigorous applied research, systematic, critical reflection and action.
6) Action is undertaken to understand, evaluate and change.
7) Research involves gathering and interpreting (or analysing) data.
8) Critical reflection involves reviewing actions undertaken and planning future
Denscombe’s (2007, p. 126) framework (see diagram on page 10) illustrates the
cyclical process in action research and contains five elements: professional
practice, critical reflection, research, strategic planning, and action. This
framework of his includes initiating with skilled or professional practice and
then reflecting analytically on it. Such reflection may lead to the identification
of a particular problem or issue that requires research. When this enquiry has
been completed, the findings from the research become the starting point for the
development of an action plan. Premeditated planning brings about transformation
(action), which has an effect on professional practice. This process is cyclic, and
results in additional phases of analytical reflection. This allows the researcher to
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
assess changes that occur. At this point, conclusions may be drawn and the project
may come to an end. However, it is possible that, following the evaluation, some
further research may be deemed necessary.
A representation of Denscombe’s (2011) action research model.
1. Professional practice

2. Critical reflection
(Identify problem, or evaluate changes)

3. Research
(Systematic and rigorous enquiry)

4. Strategic planning
(Translate findings into action plan)

5. Action
(Instigate change)
Research is about generating new knowledge. Action research produces fresh
knowledge built on analysis done around distinctive and usually pragmatic
milieus. The objective of action research is to gain knowledge with the help of
action which results in personal and professional growth. Action research develops
the understanding of practitioner through, observing, listening, analysing,
questioning and being involved in constructing one’s own knowledge. The new
knowledge and experiences inform the practitioner’s future direction and
influences action.
Action research integrates and encompasses all the methodologies the practicing
anthropologist use. Before setting to conduct action research, the practitioner
should include purpose and critical rationale. Once this is decided, the practitioner
should know which framework of action research to use in order to aid them to
realise their aims and to accomplish their project fruitfully. This involves either
selecting from the range of models available or possibly developing one’s own
model (McNiff and Whitehead, 2002, p. 55). It is important to note that it is
participatory in nature which led Kemmis and McTaggart (2000: 595) describe
it as participatory research or participatory action research (PAR). Action research
undertaken with rigour and understanding has outcomes which also contribute
to the practitioner’s professional development.
Two Common Action Research Methods: RRA (Rapid Rural Appraisal) and
PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal)
Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Participatroy Rural Appraisal (PRA) are two
methods of research which are applied by investigators and practitioners in the
field, specifically in the rural areas. These methods are used by people with
several specialised skills or who are knowledgeable about different areas of study.
That is they are multidisciplinary and this is a major feature of such research.
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These methods help in the attainment of fresh data about rural way of life and
thus assist in creating new hypotheses about the same. The researchers involve
themselves in studying particular concerns or problems which are based on the
objectives of their research. Thus in RRA and PRA, investigation is done by a
group of people together who work as a team, who are well versed in different
specialty areas. The team of practitioners works in close collaboration with
community members, involving them in all aspects of the collection and analysis
of information. Data collection is conducted with methods and techniques which
are done with the assistance and active involvement of the inhabitants of the
rural areas under study. In this regard RRA and PRA both tend to fall on the
qualitative, more participatory side of the research methods matrix. Thus PRA
and RRA are efficient and cost-effective tools for practitioners.
Triangulation is the core methodological principle in RRA and PRA which refers
to using more than one technique/source of information to cross-check answers.
(Grandstaff, Grandstaff and Lovelace 1987: 9-10). That is, it compares and
complements information from different sources or gathered in different ways.
Triangulation brings the diversification of perspectives that comes about when a
set of issues is investigated by a diverse, multidisciplinary team, using multiple
tools and techniques, with individuals and groups of people who represent the
diversity of the community.
RRA and PRA provide the following advantages to the practitioners:
• In gaining knowledge gradually with the use of adaptable techniques and by
validating them.
• A reversal of learning where practitioners learn from rural people.
• Off-setting biases by being relaxed and not rushing (bias poses the biggest
impediment to collecting information that accurately reflects the local reality).
Rapid Rural Appraisal versus Participatory Rural Appraisal
RRA developed in the 1970s. This turned out to be a process which was effectual
and easy on the pocket for the researchers who came to study the agricultural
structure of life. However the PRA research method only developed a decade
later, in the 1980s. This is with the inclusion or use of the words participation
and participatory in the RRA technique. RRA technique concludes with the
creation of a report at the end of the investigation process to corroborate the
findings. This information can then be used in a variety of ways including project
design, improvement of an ongoing project, revision of national policies, etc.
PRA does not end with the documentation of the research findings but the data
collected is utilised by the community studied to use in newer plans in their
areas. More importance in PRA is given to the entire process of collecting data
along with the information gathered. This assists in the association of the
community with the researchers in planning and making decisions. While RRA
is a distinct and isolated study, a PRA is a lengthy development that continues
for months or years. This is because communities in the process build their own
expertise to address their concerns, evaluate possibilities and accordingly conduct
activities for their benefit. So we may say that PRA allows people from rural
areas to communicate, improve and examine their facts of life and situations
which help them to strategise and act.
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
RRA and PRA Tools
The following tools are mostly used by practitioners while carrying out PRA and
1) Focus Group Discussion (discussed above)
2) Resource Mapping
3) Social Mapping
Resource Mapping
Resource mapping is a method used to gather data and strategise on the
manifestation, dispersal, entry and application of resources around the economic
and cultural sphere of a community. The practitioners do resource mapping as an
effective ice breaking exercise as well as a tool to investigate the knowledge of
the people about their own locality, their resources and their spatial distribution.
• Resource mapping assists researchers and communities.
• Generate qualitative and quantitative information.
• Identify valuable resources.
• Ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need.
• Avoid duplication of services and resources.
• Enhance services.
• Identify flexible funding strategies.
Ideal objectives
Outsider’s role
Key resource
Time period
Main users
Learning by outsiders
(gather baseline
information, monitor
and evaluate)
Elective, extractive
Plans, projects,
Local people’s
Isolated and distinct
studies which is usually
a week long
Aid agencies,
development of locals
Facilitating, participatory
Sustainable local action and
Local people’s capabilities
Continues throughout the
existence of the project.
Generally starts with
training and preliminary
examination of situation.
This is done within a period
of ten days and leads to
Community Action Plan
NGO, Government field
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• Use data to make informed decisions.
• Cultivate new partnerships and relationships.
Resource mapping should be operated at the start of a community based action.
However rapport should be built before this with the community. Knowledge on
the social structure of the participating community is a prerequisite for the
practitioner. This is to be taken into consideration as the community may view
distribution of assets, their usage and entry as delicate concerns.
Social Mapping
The presentation of information related to village design, social setup,
demography, language, religion, economy and other social issues is denoted as
social mapping. The practitioners do the social mapping to get an overview of
the socio-economic aspects. It also tells us about the social atmosphere and how
people fit into it. It is thus an imagery or graphic depiction of a social network.
Social mapping has been applied by practicing anthropologists by and large to
map out and understand the association or links between populations or
communities they study. It is today used as an effective tool, especially on the
internet to promote, advertise, build connections and research the processes by
which online human groups communicate with each other. People associated
with networking locations like twitter and facebook factually fit themselves into
a social map and exploit their varied offerings.
Making and Shaping Effective Policy
A policy can be understood as a program of actions adopted by a person, group,
or government to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. Policies can
help in decision making which are both subjective and objective. Policies are
mainly established to do away with any undesirable consequences which have
been detected in organisations earlier. Policies may also be created to strive for
desirable advantages. Policy making is a complex process without a definite
beginning or end; somehow a complex set of forces together produces effects
called policies (Lindblom, 1980, p. 5). The policy makers, who create this complex
course, are not only found as government officials, civil servants and nominated
policy counselors but after obtaining information about problems practicing
anthropologists too, move to the stage of making and shaping policies. Many a
times they are researchers providing information to policy makers, or as analysts
who evaluate research data for policy makers.
The practicing anthropologist can critically evaluate epidemiological approaches
in public health from an anthropological perspective and can input important
concepts, perspectives and methods from medical anthropology to be incorporated
in the policies on public health issues. Similarly indigenous knowledge about
crops and environment that are gathered by the practicing anthropologist can
help formulate an effective policy of that area.
An effective policy is framed in the following steps (Bulmer, 1986, p.5):
1) Firstly a problem which requires action is identified. The goals, values and
objectives related to the problem are then set out.
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
2) All important possible ways of solving the problem or achieving the goals
or objectives are then listed. These are alternative strategies or courses of
3) The important consequences which would follow from each alternative
strategy are predicted and the probability of those consequences occurring is
4) The consequences of each strategy are then compared to the goals and
objectives identified.
5) Finally, a policy or strategy is selected in which consequences most closely
match goals and objectives.
Hence it is clear that practicing anthropology can be at the heart of policy making.
In this context practicing anthropologists are needed to help to determine what
works and why, and what types of policy initiatives are likely to be most effective.
The practitioners may form an effective policy with the following characteristics
(London Cabinet Office, Strategic Policy Making Team, 1999):
1) An effective policy is forward looking which takes a long-term view. It is
based on statistical trend, informed predictions, and the likely impact of
2) An effective policy is outward looking. It takes account of factors in the
national and international situation.
3) An effective policy is innovative and creative which questions established
ways of dealing with things and encourages new ideas; open to comments
and suggestions of others.
4) An effective policy uses best available evidence from a wide range of sources
and involves key stakeholders at an early stage.
5) An effective policy is inclusive which takes account the impact on the needs
of all those directly or indirectly affected by the policy.
6) An effective policy is joined-up which looks beyond institutional boundaries
to the government’s strategic objectives, establishing the ethical and legal
base for policy.
7) An effective policy builds systematic evaluation of early outcomes into the
policy process.
8) An effective policy is always under review to ensure it continues to deal
with the problems it was designed to tackle, taking account of associated
effects elsewhere.
9) An effective policy learns from experience of what works and what does
Effective Communication
The word communication comes from the Latin word Communicare which
means‚ to share. When people express and share their thoughts, views, ideas and
emotions with others by use of words verbally, gestures and writing, we can call
it the process of communication.
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Communication is made up of three features:
1) The sender or source
2) The message encoded with help of language or signs.
3) The receiver (to whom the message is transmitted through a channel)
The three elements are dynamically interrelated.
Communication is called effective communication when the content which is
conveyed is obtained and understood by a person in the manner it is designed.
Therefore effective communication is determined not by how well one says things
but by how well he has been understood. It is a life skill and the most important
source of power at family, social situations and professional work. Management
functions in organisations are in fact carried out through communication. Thus
in organisations, effective communication can assist in encouraging enthusiasm
and furnishing knowledge to make better choices by means of analytical response.
The practitioners need to communicate effectively within and outside the
organisation with positive attitude and positive words. They should listen more
and talk less because listening is the key to effective communication. Face-toface
communication is the best form of effective communication. Whatever
meaning is put across through communication should be appealing, concise and
distinct. It should be structured keeping in mind the ability of the receiver’s
understanding. There must be an appropriate balance while conducting verbal
and non-verbal communication. Frequent meetings and meaningful gatherings
in an organisation also foster effective communication. The practitioners need to
plan and execute communication in such a way that it evokes the desired response.
Innovative Thinking
Innovative thinking is imaginative thinking that goes beyond what we can see. It
is the ability to look beyond the obvious. It is creative and it is different. An
innovative thinker has the ability to observe the exceptional in the normal. The
other important aspect of innovation is that it is about invention. It is about
creating something which no one has earlier produced. Some people are naturally
born with this gift, while others have to train their brain to be able to think
outside the box. Research has proved that any person irrespective of age or
education can have the creativity to build something new. With training,
perseverance, and endurance, any person can reinforce one’s creative prowess.
One does not need to have a team of scientists and engineers at his disposal to
bring innovative ideas to life.
Sender Receiver
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Innovative thinking helps practicing anthropologists learn radical problem solving
techniques at all levels. It is the best business survival tool for practitioners.
Innovative thinking is actually a highly sought after skill in the business world
and other society transforming professions. It helps practitioners to create a new
outfit, come up with a good business idea or solution to a problem. They can
thus contribute creative ideas and original solutions. Being able to come up with
new and useful ideas is something every profession can use. Innovative thinking
endows professionals, organisations and government bodies with hi-tech results
which in turn gives an instant return on ventures with the use of advanced
technology. Practicing anthropologists may follow the same path to convert an
idea to an invention. Innovative thinking by practitioners starts with defining the
situation. First they should look at what they are working with and then define
what is needed. Next they should gather information to find an idea that they can
work with to improve upon. Finally, the actual innovative process arrives, where
they will undergo brainstorming session to be creative and inventive. Anything
goes in this step of the process. After coming up with ideas they can weed out
those that are not going to work. Then they need to work further on promising
ideas to develop it more. At this point, they are likely to see some ideas emerging
as being the most likely to work upon. They can now define the final solution.
They can now begin to work on implementing the idea and making it a reality.
Therefore, for a successful practice the practitioner should innovate continuously
so that new and better ideas flow. Innovative thinkers are needed both inside and
outside of any work place. The employees can be provided with opportunities to
face actual challenges which will in turn aid them to perform innovatively towards
real projects.
Knowledge of Organisation
Knowledge is the general awareness or possession of information, facts, ideas,
or principles which is intangible, dynamic and difficult to measure. Here by
knowledge of organisation we imply the knowledge of a practitioner about her/
his organisation and the knowledge management inside the organisation. For a
practicing anthropologist it is important to have the knowledge of the organisation
s/he is working in. This knowledge develops her/his judgment and insight. It
allows her/him to quickly size up a situation and helps her/him in constructing a
path forward. This also helps the practitioner to know in advance what type of
organisation s/he is working in so that s/he can better understand her/his authoritative
level. Practitioners should also continually learn new methods of managing and
leading their organisations. The traditional method of learning is to read books,
business journals and internet information. An unconventional method would
be to gather knowledge and utilising it by means of building relationships. The
practicing anthropologist should strive to possess dual set of knowledge that is
tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. The tacit knowledge is personal,
experiential knowledge which is very necessary to head individuals.
Management of knowledge or knowledge management includes a variety of
procedures which are applied by organisations and practicing anthropologists,
to detect, generate, embody and disseminate knowledge. Knowledge management
is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organisations to
collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better
achieve their objectives (Young, 2010). Without knowledge no practitioner or
organisation/profession can survive. Any successful practice is built on formation
Tools for Professional
of new wisdom and its distribution, which assists the productivity of people who
has gained this knowledge making them strong-willed. Such workers develop a
capacity to deal with uncertainty, ambiguity, complexity, and change.
Collaboration Flexibility
Collaboration is an act of working together to multiply each other’s strength
while flexibility is about making changes to when, where and how a practitioner
will work to better meet individual and business needs. Thus flexibility enables
the needs of an organisation to be met through making changes to the time (when),
location (where) and manner (how) in the workings of the organisation. For a
successful collaboration the members should have flexibility while working
Collaboration flexibility implies that practitioners should learn flexible ways of
communicating and collaborating, allowing changes in the ongoing ‘working
together’ and looking for win-win solutions. Collaboration flexibility is a shared
responsibility. It is a partnership. Each partner in a flexible collaboration is
comfortable with the discretion they have, including when and how to say “no.”
The practitioners must be knowledgeable about policies to promote flexible
collaboration to help get the work done. It also requires the establishment to
develop and communicate clear organisational policies and guidelines. Much
more can be accomplished through the flexible effort of the groups developing
the real power and potential within the group. Collaboration flexibility therefore
helps work the partnership, promoting continuous interaction. It can also improve
job satisfaction and reduce stress.
Multidisciplinary Networking
The multidisciplinary network is formed by professional service firms which
offer multidisciplinary approaches to the clients in solving complex issues they
face. The practitioners should be a part of this multi disciplinary network to get
ideas and suggestions from various professional service firms. Once a practitioner
is part of this network or becomes its client the professional advisors in this
network provide service to the practitioner’s organisation. Multidisciplinary
network help practicing anthropologists solve their complex problems through
sharing of expertise’s best practice. They also have provision for training and
development. MSI Global is one such network which has firms in many countries.
Social Responsibility
In a very general sense social responsibility is understood as responsibility one
has towards members of the society with whom one interacts or towards the
society in general. It is an ethical notion which underlines sensitivity toward
social, cultural, economic and environmental issues. In this sense it is a duty of
an individual or organisation to sustain equilibrium between economy and
ecosystem. Practicing anthropologists who are aware of their social responsibility
helps individuals and their organisations to have a positive impact on
development, business and society.
Coping Strategies/Skills
Coping is a response aimed at diminishing the physical, emotional, and
psychological burden that is linked to stressful life events and daily hassles.
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Therefore, by this definition, coping strategies are those responses that are
effective in reducing an undesirable “load” (i.e., the psychological burden).
(Snyder, 1999).
Life is surrounded by an amount of conflict and anxiety which we consider to be
part of our daily life. Life as we know it is not flawless. Therefore stress is an
integral element in our lives. This can sometimes produce ill effects on our
physical and emotional condition. Also any profession or project further exposes
practicing anthropologists to stressful situations. By learning better coping skills
practitioners can reduce their stress levels. Problem focused coping includes
efforts that are directed at controlling or changing the sources of stress (e.g.,
learning new skills, removing barriers, generating alternative solutions). Emotion
focused coping strategies are attempts at managing emotional responses to the
stressor (e.g., wishful thinking, seeking emotional support, social comparison.
(ibid). With realistic appraisals practitioners can better react to day-to-day life
stresses. The effectiveness of the coping strategy rests on its ability to reduce
immediate distress, as well as to contribute to more long-term outcomes such as
psychological well-being or physical health status.
Specialisation in Regional or Cultural Areas
Practicing anthropologists with specialisation in regional and cultural aspects
are in better position to carry out practice. Specialised knowledge is used by
practitioners to collect, examine, decode and develop more research. The
specialised regional and cultural information about that group with respect to
values, beliefs, behaviour, customs, habits and thoughts is of much practical use
to the practitioners who are studying individuals and organisations. As a result,
they will be in a better position to communicate in an efficient and constructive
way with individuals and members of that culture. They can also give practical
advice and behavioural skill training to other member of their organisation. A
wide range of specialised information systematically gathered by practicing
anthropologists during their practice can later be also developed into a good
ethnography of the area.
Developing Technical Knowledge
Technical knowledge is the knowledge about things which can be rationalised
and used to any concern or function. This technical knowledge when put into
practice becomes technical skill. Technology has affected the ways and methods
in which the practitioners carry out their jobs. Knowing what areas have been
affected and which particular technologies have affected the areas is very
important so that practitioners can excel and lead in their profession. One most
important technical skill in today’s world is computer or information technology
skill which has taken over most of the professional activities and has spread over
and beyond unimaginable tendencies. To be successful, practitioners need to
understand the security sensitivity of computer-based environment and be able
to combat computer related issues. Organisations which depend on computers
should know how to safeguard information and the hi-tech methods which are
used to handle and transfer data.
Practitioners must train themselves to get well equipped in technical knowledge
to have that cutting edge in their work. There are some computer related technical
Tools for Professional
skills which a practitioner must definitely develop. They are word processing
and spreadsheet skills, web navigation and downloading skills, database skills,
electronic presentation skills, file management skills, computer software
installation skills, computer security skills, knowledge of computer related storage
devices and lastly even how to fix a computer if there be a problem.
The extremely vital and essential requirement needed to get ready for a career as
a practicing anthropologist is a strong and complete intellectual and scholarly
training in anthropology. As from all the lessons in this course we have come to
know that an anthropologist with proper learning of anthropological research
methods and theories along with an understanding of people can become eligible
to undertake challenges outside the academic world to provide solutions and
facilitate major changes in society. It is the application of these methods and
tools in problem solving situations that makes practicing anthropology a reality.
Along with anthropological know how, other worldly skills like getting trained
in statistics, computers, writing, data analysing, inventing, business networking
etc., also assist the practicing anthropologist to work in diverse situations with
confidence. The conceptual and analytical abilities should be supported by verbal
and written communication skills which further refine any other skill like
managing stake holders, knowledge management and shaping effective policies.
Interactive skills are also a must for a practitioner to succeed in motivating
community changes. The above tools have been elaborately discussed in this
unit and using them appropriately, effectively and aptly any practicing
anthropologist can build a successful career.
Balnaves, M. and Peter Caputi. 2001. Introduction to Quantitative Research
Methods: An Investigative Approach.
Bulmer, M. 1986. Social Science and Policy. London: Allen and Unwin.
Cabinet Office, UK, Strategic Policy Making Team.1999. Professional Policy
Making for the Twenty First Century. London: Cabinet Office.
Chambers, Harry E. 2001. Effective Communication Skills for Scientific and
Technical Professionals. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Publishing.
Costello, P.J.M. 2011. Effective Action Research: Developing Reflective Thinking
and Practice. Second Edition. London: Continuum.
Freeman, R. E, Jeffrey S. Harrison and Andrew C. Wicks. 2007. Managing for
Stakeholders: Survival, Reputation, and Success New Haven: Yale University
Grandstaff, Somluckrat, W. Grandstaff, Terry B. and Lovelace, George W. 1987
“Summary Report” KKU Proceedings pp 3-30.
Hargreaves, D. 1996. Teaching as a Research-Based Profession: Possibilities
and Prospects. Teacher Training Agency Annual Lecture, April.
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into Praxis
Lindblom, C. 1959. ‘The Science of Muddling Through’. Public Administration
Review. no 19, pp 79-88. Methodology Report No. 8. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Agency for International Development.
Morgan, D.L. 1997. Focus Groups as Qualitative Research (2nd edn). Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage.
Morgan, D.L. 1998. The Focus Group Guidebook (Focus Group Kit, vol.1).
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Snyder, C. R. 1999. Coping the Psychology of What Works. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Vaughn, S., J.S. Schumm and J. Sinagub. 1996. Focus Group Interviews in
Education and Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Young, Ron. 2010. Knowledge Management and Innovation in a Global
Knowledge Economy. Paper presented at Knowledge Management Egypt, April
20-21, Cairo.
Suggested Reading
Ervin, Alexander M. 2004. Applied Anthropology: Tools and Perspectives for
Contemporary Practice (2ndEdition). Boston: Pearson / Allyn & Bacon.
Sample Questions
1) Discuss the important tools a successful practitioner needs to be equipped
2) Examine the importance of participatory methodologies.
3) Discuss in detail RRA and PRA.
4) What is the significance of communication and collaboration in practicing
Tools for Professional UNIT 2 CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT Practice
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Capacity Development
2.3 History of Capacity Development
2.3.1 Three Levels of Capacity Development
2.4 Practicing Anthropologists and Capacity Development
2.4.1 Role Played by Anthropologists in Capacity Development
2.5 Elements of Capacity Development
2.6 Summary
Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives
After going through this unit, you will be able to:
Ø understand what capacity development is;
Ø learn about the role played by anthropologists in capacity development;
Ø learn about different skills as part of capacity development; and
Ø understand how capacity development is important in the different tasks
taken up by practicing anthropologists.
Individuals possess capacities in the form of knowledge, skills, and attitudes. In
simple terms, an individual’s capacity is her/his potential to perform. It refers to
her/his ability to successfully apply her/his skills and resources to accomplish
the goals and satisfy her/his clients’/stakeholders’ expectations. Capacity
represents the potential for using resources effectively and maintaining gains in
performance with gradually reduced levels of external support (LaFond and
Brown, 2003, 7). Capacity is the ability of people, organisations and society as a
whole to manage their affairs successfully (OECD, 2006, 12). In a nutshell
capacity is the ability of a human system to perform, sustain itself and self renew.
In this lesson it is this capacity and its development which we will learn about in
order to understand how practitioners with anthropological knowledge can
perform tasks to bring about positive changes in people, institutes, associations,
corporations, nations and society as a whole.
The aim of capacity development is to improve the potential performance of an
individual or an organisation. Capacity development is literally, change that deals
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in capacity over time. It is important to recognise that capacity development is in
that sense an endogenous and continuous or spontaneous process. The capacity
of an individual always changes or develops due to its contact with its
surroundings as the environment in which the capacity grows is never motionless.
This evolution is either for good or bad. Therefore it is necessary that capacity
development should be built to do away with hindrances which restrain
individuals, institutions and nations from achieving their progressive objectives.
In the process it also improves the capabilities which will permit them to attain
considerable and viable outcomes.
In the sphere of research and development, capacity development is often equated
with training activities and workshops. In management schools, capacity
development often means organisational development (Harrison 1994). In nongovernmental
and voluntary service organisations (NGOs and VSOs) capacity
development is often associated with the empowerment of individuals and
grassroots organisations (Eade 1997; Fals-Borda and Rahman 1991). At the United
Nations and the World Bank, capacity development typically refers to improving
national institutions to improve governance and economic management (Picciotto
and Wiesner 1998).
Peter Morgan (1997) has defined capacity development as the process by which
individuals, groups and organisations improve their ability to carry out their
functions and achieve desired results over time. This definition highlights two
important points. First that capacity development is largely an internal process
of growth and development, and second that capacity-development efforts should
be results oriented.
The process of capacity development has the following common features:
1) Capacity development is an ongoing process.
2) Capacity development aims to increase the ability of an individual or
organisation to carry out his/its functions and achieve his/its objectives.
3) Capacity development increases the ability of an individual/organisation to
learn and solve problems.
4) Capacity development includes creating the ability to deal with the issues of
today and also to remain relevant in the future.
Capacity development is built and assisted by advisers, specialists, guides,
counselors etc. who act as ‘external actors’ to their patrons. There are other
personnel who too are involved in such work, for example supervisors, project
squad representatives, field officers and such other professionals who are present
in organisations run by the public or the private sectors. Capacity development
as an aid, a support tool possesses considerable strength and is an asset.
Capacity development as a notion or concept, and also as an experiment or
empirical procedure, has been created and upgraded continuously, for better
performance. Below we read through a couple of stages which talk about its
uninterrupted growth and usability.
The Era of Technical Cooperation Capacity Development
The term ‘capacity development’ as used today has its origins in the fields of
technical assistance and development cooperation. During the 1950s and 1960s,
financial resources, physical resources and skills were transferred to poor countries
in a ‘supply driven’ model of capacity development. The focus was on the supply
of inputs and the transfer of technology from industrial countries to less developed
areas. Hence from the 1950s to the 1990s, capacity development efforts focused
on training individuals, building facilities and infrastructure and organisational
The Era of the Management Consultant
The concept of capacity development started to take shape in the beginning of
the 1990s but finally got a footing in the development schema of things after the
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness held in 2005. This necessitated the
establishment of efficient assistance at a heightened and superior plane in order
to toughen governance and upgrade the operations related to development in
developing nations. From 1990s till now, capacity development is carried on in
the economic, social and political structures at the national level. It was and is
now undertaken in research and development organisations, academia, public
sector governance, regulatory and monitoring activities. Capacity development
has been identified as the single most important UNDP service and is particularly
relevant to the needs of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
2.3.1 Three Levels of Capacity Development
1) Individual (Micro level)
At an individual level, capacity development works as a recurrent process
which engages in learning, increasing one’s knowledge and using them when
chance allows.
2) Institutional/Organisational/Community/NGO (Meso level)
Capacity development at institutional level involves building on existing
capacities, encouraging existing institutions to grow.
3) Societal (Macro level)
Society as a complete entity is also utilised through its capacities to bring
about changes. This involvement promotes varied development. For example,
policy development schemes, where openings are created for people as part
of the private and public sector in order to contribute their capacities to the
Any holistic approach to capacity development should address all the above
three levels.
Capacity development as is evident from the above discussion is a result oriented
problem solving tool. For a practicing anthropologist who is out there in different
fields solving problems, capacity development becomes an important and integral
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requisite. From the perspective of practitioners (we will use the term practitioner
for the practicing anthropologist often in the lesson), it is very important to
understand what capacity is all about and what its development entails. The
holism pursued by practitioners points them towards a profile of methods,
concepts, and competencies that is not limited to certain organisations or sectors.
A coherent and holistic professional domain should be discussed to explore the
different aspects of capacity development.
2.4.1 Role Played by Anthropologists in Capacity Development
Anthropologists have always been involved in capacity development in one form
or the other. For example, anthropologists are associated with training and research
institutes connected with indigenous issues and communities in different states.
They train government officials and elected representatives also working in tribal
areas. Administrative officers are trained or oriented in the basics of anthropology
on various aspects of culture and society as this can help them associate with
people closely to understand their problems and find solutions. Such orientations
are being given by none other than people with anthropological training or
It is also observed that anthropologists who work in grass roots organisations
offer training to participatory bodies like self help groups/thrift groups, members
of local self government organisations etc. Thus we find anthropologists involved
in training and preparation of training material for those who have to deal with
people of other cultures. They are equipped to do this because of their cross
cultural experience and cultural sensitivity. For example soldiers going to fight
in foreign lands are oriented about other cultures and proper conduct in dealing
with people in various situations.
In fact to probe further, anthropologists have played a distinct role since the very
inception of the concept of applied anthropology. They have made themselves
available to public development and their capacities as experts offering
knowledge. During the colonial times anthropologists have worked with the help
of government funding to research and provide information to the administration
for better initiatives for the people. Though of course, the main purpose was the
establishment of administration of power in colonies, however during such
intervention they used to provide information to the government during framing
of policies and plans and gave suggestions on the creation of tribal charters and
constitutions. This brought an insider’s perspective on effects of policies which
can help built their capacity. Anthropologists at this time were hence employed
by the government for such works. This actually gave a formal status to the
discipline of practicing /applied anthropology.
Another intervention by anthropologists during this time was in the form of
conducting research in the field where they went and lived with communities to
collect information regarding them. Such field research was funded by the
government at that time not only to help anthropologists collect information but
also to train the communities and help them understand the importance of
modernisation. Such training ventures were no doubt directed at the capacity
development of these communities and were financially supported by government.
Anthropologists were also employed as consultants in the military, foreign office,
colonial office for providing colonial service training. They were even involved
as liaisons with the War Relocation Authority Capacity Development
. The training given by
anthropologists to these persons helped them understand the people they were
going to rule or were ruling. In all such training endeavours the anthropologists
aimed at capacity development of these people to help them understand the culture
of various communities and respect them.
The most direct shot at capacity development was taken when anthropologists
took to action research methodology in applied research. The action research
was practice-oriented, had problem solving emphasis where research finally
translated into strategic planning and action. This became the most important go
of practicing anthropologists at capacity development till date. Action research
in its present evolved participatory form (PAR) has become one of the best
methodologies employed by practicing anthropology for capacity development.
We will now discuss how a practicing anthropologist can carry out capacity
development which will help her/him to work better in organisations and
institutions. When a practitioner as an individual shares her/his knowledge, skills,
and attitudes with others or when her/his capacities become embedded in group
activities and processes, it can be said that s/he becomes a part of the group’s
capacity. And when individual and group capacities are widely shared among
the organisation’s members and become incorporated into the institution’s culture,
strategies, structures, management systems, and operating procedures, they
become institutional/organisational capacities. Thus the capacity development
of a practitioner and her/his organisation is interconnected. A practitioner can
use the following soft skills for capacity development at any level.
Among many things communication can mean the act of expressing ideas and
knowledge. It almost goes without saying that communication lies at the root of
all human development. Communication permeates all aspects of our personal
and professional lives. It is the key to having positive interactions and to building
and maintaining favourable relationships. It is extremely necessary to have the
quality to communicate and also to put across its meaning.
Meaningful communication means getting information out to particular audiences,
listening to their feedback, and responding appropriately. This is very vital for
capacity development of a practitioner and the organisation s/he is a part of.
Training on understanding others and increasing communication effectiveness
can be very helpful in broadening the skills of a practicing anthropologist. It is
often seen that much of what one tries to communicate and others try to
communicate to us gets misunderstood. This causes conflict and frustration in
professional work. With effective communication skills, practitioners can better
connect with friends and co-workers. With effective and meaningful
communication the practicing anthropologist working in health, education or
any other public or private sector can build consensus through raising public
understanding and generating well-informed dialogue among stakeholders
improving capacity at all levels. Thus for a practitioner and her/his organisation
the communications skills and strategies are a critical ingredient in her/his ability
to survive, thrive and develop her/his capacity.
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Networking may be understood as an aiding system which disperses skills,
knowledge and information among persons and groups who share common
It is considered one of the most effective ways for capacity development. Most
networking begins through casual everyday conversation. Through networking
a practicing anthropologist can learn about career opportunities, specific
organisations, institution and industries. Professionals already working in the
fields that interest a practitioner are typically the best sources of this type of
information. They can offer specific inside views that cannot be duplicated. S/he
can be connected to others present in their network the ones who can already
facilitate extra help or support. One way to do this is by information interview in
which the practitioner has the opportunity to explore her/his field of interest
through a structured, longer conversation with someone already working in that
field. Information interviewing is therefore a part of the networking procedure.
Recently online networking has caught up with the emergence of social and
professional networking sites. The practitioners now have greater access to
professionals in a wide range of fields. The profile created online for such
networking should establish a professional image. Such an online profile should
contain appropriate data related to what is being looked for in terms of jobs and
internship. Other relevant information can be study, internship/work experiences,
and extracurricular activities. It is best to exclude personal information such as
marital status, religion, ethnicity etc. Also while connecting with the contacts
through an online networking system, one’s message should be error free.
Thus through networking any practitioner can collect information on a particular
function, industry, or geographic area to improve his skill sets required for his
profession. Networking helps in finding out the loose ends in his own organisation,
after having conversed with different people associated to similar functional
areas and industries. This will ultimately improve his potential performance or
capacity. More on networking as a process is discussed in section 2.5.
Negotiation can be defined as a channel of communication between people or
interest groups which aims to arrive at an arrangement or bargain with the help
of talks. It can be applied to nearly every aspect of our life. Many times we do
not even know that we are doing it for an understanding, resolving point of
difference, or gaining advantage in the outcome of dialogue. Our lives and work
are designed as such that we survive through relationships, co-operations and
interdependencies. As we negotiate with people or groups to achieve what we
desire, we can say that negotiation is a process. It is a process which starts at the
very beginning, when we embark upon to satiate any pursuit and ends in an
arrangement that perfectly fulfils our concerns completely.
Negotiation is an intrinsic part of business ventures, non-governmental
organisations, government agencies, legal dealings etc., among countries and
nations and thus it is important for a practitioner to learn various negotiation
approaches for capacity development. In the work environment every associated
party, be it an individual or a group, attempts to negotiate to acquire an
Capacity Development improvement by the time the process comes to an end. The practitioner can use
negotiation as persuasive communications getting others do what s/he wants
them to do. Here it is required for the practitioner to use all her/his communication
skills, knowledge, insight, diplomacy and tact.
For a practicing anthropologist, negotiation provides her/him an opportunity to
solve a problem in collaboration with a partner. The practitioner should look at
negotiation as a shared problem and strive to solve it collectively with the
stakeholders. A good negotiation well played can leave a practitioner feeling
fulfilled and rewarded and can develop the capacity of his organisation to survive
and fulfill its mission.
The way by which groups can be facilitated to perform competently and efficiently
can be termed as facilitation. Facilitation is more required when persons from
different experiences, surroundings, interests and proficiencies work alongside
each other. Groups, who are involved in taking decisions or are occupied in any
planning process, should employ a trained facilitator to make the process more
effective and effortless for all concerned. A practicing anthropologist as a
facilitator manages the meeting structure, not content. S/he has the responsibility
of helping the group or organisation clarify its goals or desired outcomes.
Sometimes these involvements are seen as the practitioner helping the group
change directions and redefine its goals and desired outcomes. S/he, as a facilitator,
can assist the group concentrate its resources on any assignment or mission and
can also put forward ways of working in the form of methods and ideas. He
helps find win-win solutions. Communication skills described above are critical
for a practitioner working as a facilitator.
A practicing anthropologist with facilitation can keep the meetings focused on
the subject of discussion or on dealing with the problem at hand. This will increase
the capacity of employees to handle their concerns fruitfully. Practitioners with
facilitation can also manage the process in the organisation, providing neutral
perspective, moving meetings along in a timely manner and thus helping in the
capacity development of the organisation. With the capacity developed the
organisations will better fulfill their core functions, and achieve their goals.
Leadership is the ability to lead, guide, direct, or influence people. It is the ability
to bring like-minded people together to get remarkable things done. The notion
of leadership arose from the fact that human beings are social beings and thus
have the instinct to build hierarchies. Someone has to be in charge, share a vision,
and lead others towards goals. A leader is supposed to have some generic
leadership traits like enthusiasm, integrity, toughness, fairness, warmth, humility,
confidence etc. In any organisation the leader meets the needs and values of the
followers and group. Practicing the principle of leadership means to act rather
than to react.
The practicing anthropologist can use this leadership skill in defining the task,
planning, briefing controlling, and evaluating. As a leader the practitioner assists
and helps people in the achievement of a common mission. S/he also defines a
direction for the tasks. The practitioner not only takes orders for assigned roles
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and responsibilities but s/he also takes the initiative and responsibility. At the
end of the day s/he becomes accountable for the outcome of her/his task. A
practitioner as a leader motivates her/his employee, keeping them on task and
thus developing their capacity.
Leadership depends on relationship building. A practitioner becomes a leader
through her/his ability to build relationships among employees, customers,
investors, and any other stakeholders thus developing their capacity. The
practitioner uses her/his emotional intelligence to handle relationships with her/
his employee. Emotional intelligence includes the ability to understand and work
with what another person is feeling; for example the person’s stress level. As a
leader when a practitioner relieves the employees of their everyday life stress it
results in productive employees with increased capacity. As their leader, s/he lets
her/his employees know how much s/he values their contributions. S/he provides
a safe and appealing work environment. Safety in the workplace includes both
physical safety and emotional well being. Caring enough to provide an attractive,
safe working environment and putting the needs of her/his employee ahead of
her/his own needs brings about the capacity development of the employee and
the organisation.
Organising skills
When we arrange things or objects in a particular order by following instructions,
we can call this organising. To take it a step further, when we arrange the same in
the precise method by using our skills, it is called organising skills. Here we are
referring to the organising skill in various work places of practitioners which is
essentially a management function. Organisational skill is one of the most
important job skills which a practitioner must possess. Through this skill the
practitioners organise the work of their employees for their capacity development.
The kinds of organising skills that are needed in a workplace are all-purpose,
strategising, time controlling, ground-working, scheduling, organising assets and
finishing tasks on or before the time limits. It may also include allocating duties,
dividing these duties into different branches and also distributing responsibilities
with power and of resources throughout the organisation. Organising skills also
help practitioner to stay organised so that s/he can manage her/his time keeping
her/his workspace clutter-free, prioritise projects thus bringing about the capacity
development of the organisation. Most organisations prefer professionals who
are organised and focus on the projects at hand. The practitioner’s general
organising skills help her/him to organise the work of employees, like to keep
them busy, arrange files etc. One of the most important organising skills is the
ability to meet deadlines and use time wisely. Here the practitioner should have
the ability to prioritise tasks and delegate them properly. To finish particular
work on time or meeting a target necessitates time management skills. This on
its own is a noteworthy organisational skill. The work of a practitioner is many
times centered on certain projects that must be completed within a specific time
period. With good organisation skill the practitioner divides the project into many
different tasks. Scheduling is also taken to be another important organising skill.
The practitioner in charge can assign a particular time period to conduct given
tasks or duties to specific employees. One more important organising skill in the
workplace is coordinating resources. The practitioner needs to coordinate both
internal and external resources. The organising skills discussed above aids in the
capacity development of the organisation.
Capacity development not only increases the potential of practitioners but it also
helps them to work better in organisations. Following are some recognised
elements of capacity development which helps the practicing anthropologist to
work better in organisations and institutions.
Collaborations and Networking
In simplest terms collaboration is the act of working together to accomplish
more than any one person or organisation can do alone. Here two or more people
or organisations work together to realise shared goals. Collaboration is based on
the principle that if we do something together we can do it better. Collaboration
is used to gather the ideas, intelligence, data, knowledge, awareness and of course
skills of many team members together so as to give more efficiecy as compared
to the efficacy of individual team members. This helps in bringing forth the best
in the group and assisting in attaining better base. It aids to increasing everyone’s
capacities as a whole. Practicing anthropologists make collaborations to multiply
each other’s strengths to produce a result that no party could have achieved alone.
Collaboration only results in better competencies. Every member works towards
the main mutually aimed at goals and purposes. The result is “we did it together”.
While working collaboratively, members may share ideas and data which will
also aid in the quest of their own individual research objectives. Collaboration is
an essential requirement for practitioners to compete in the global arena. In order
to stay ahead of the curve, the practicing anthropologist needs to define the rules
of collaboration, build trust in new ways, collaborate in virtual environments
and partner with those who help make it happen. A collaboration to be a strong
one requires that the relationship built between the core-members is based on
trust. This will surely facilitate towards the fulfillment of their shared goals.
Collaboration is a methodical way of moving from idea to action. The
practitioner’s action research is greatly benefitted by it.
It is not only the people but also the organisation which learns and gains
knowledge in the process of achieving goals and they are needed to complement
each other. In fact this combined attempt brings out better achievements. The
support of an organisation encourages individuals to function at a continuous
elevated level of imagination which in turn builds the actual strength and aptitude
of the group. For collaboration to actually work, all group members should be
given that bit of individuality and freedom which will support in acquiring the
goal. At the same time, all members should possess a powerful sense of dedication
so that these individual freedoms can be used for working towards a common
notion and goal.
Network is a group or system of interconnected people or things. Here we are
concerned about a network of people who exchange information and contacts
for professional (business network) or social (social network) purposes.
Networking is the process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas
among individuals or groups that share a common interest. It may fall into one
of two categories social networking or business networking. Social networking
is a grouping created out of individuals divided into particular groups for a
common intention. When website/internet is used for social networking it is
called online social networking. Such websites are termed social sites. These
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social sites work through an online group of internet surfers. These groups of
people share with each other their common interests like hobbies, religion, social
activism, politics, ways of living etc. After a formal registration access is granted
to a social networking site, the website allows the user to socialise. Socialising
on such internet social networking sites starts with going through the profile
pages of members who are already there and if there is any commonality found,
even going ahead and getting in touch with them. An apt example of a social
networking site is Facebook. On the other hand, a business networking site on
the internet purely deals with creating and maintaining professional relationships
which will help in improving one’s career and job prospects. Here sharing of
information between individuals and groups or institutions is completely to do
with discussion or exchange on concerns related to occupations and business
relationship between such groups are purely platonic. An apt example for such a
business networking group is LinkedIn.
The practicing anthropologist can practice networking events within her/his
professional organisations. This can link her/him up with other bodies to stage a
joint event. It builds a supportive system of sharing information and services
among practitioners having a common interest. Business networking has received
a tremendous boost in participation thanks to the burgeoning popularity of
business networking sites such as LinkedIn. The advantages of networking have
already been discussed above.
Language skills
We all know what language is but for the purpose of textual clarity, we may
define language as something which is used to characterise what is spoken or
written by us as a means to communicate. But to speak or use language in a way
to impress, influence and inspire others is a skill. Language skill starts in an
individual’s life when s/he is still an infant, learning the nuances of speaking.
Language, is as much a social process, as it is technical. So that language fluidity
develops meaningfully, children must be allowed to converse socially as much
as possible. Socially conversing would include interaction with family, teachers,
peers, mentors etc., wherein there should be involvements like participating,
reflecting, understanding and concentrating.
Four language skills recognised are:
1) Listening
2) Speaking
3) Reading
4) Writing
When we learn a language, it is the above four skills we learn. It must be noted
that we usually learn to listen first, then to speak, then to read, and finally to
write. These four language skills are needed for effective communication.
Effective communication is a fundamental part of all professions a practicing
anthropologist undertakes. Hence a practicing anthropologist needs to develop
her/his language skill for entry into or advancement within a profession. It is a
fact that employers look for and accordingly rank a prospective employee on the
basis of the language skill s/he may possess. It is an eligibility that they seek
while taking into consideration candidates where the need for use of language Capacity Development
skill is a must. With a good language skill the practitioner can not only demonstrate
her/his competence in her/his profession, but the ability to communicate her/his
knowledge, explaining her/his problem solving methods, and asking incisive
questions. The solution to successful interaction lie in creating diverse language
knacks like building concepts, designing strategies, situating and developing
enough support resources and adjusting these resources in a comprehensible
way. Language skills open up a whole world of opportunities. While career in
interpretation and translation is one excellent profession, the practitioner can
apply language skills in an enormous range of careers because communication is
any employer’s number one requirement. A practitioner with good language skill
can automatically adjust this use of language to suit the context and the people
he is with, altering his conversational style to take account of differing
communication demands.
The capacity to perform something ably can be viewed as competency. It may be
identified through the capability gained from practice and experience. Success
at work has less to do with our intelligence than with competencies which include
how we handle ourselves with others, the initiative we take, and our ability to
win support for our ideas. David McClelland, was one of the first to make the
case that competencies, rather than intelligence, was what differentiated successful
people from their less successful peers in the workplace. He defined a competency
as a personal characteristic, motive, behaviour, skill, or knowledge that is proven
to drive superior job performance. (McClelland, 1984)
These competencies are the most critical to practitioner who as a leader try getting
results through others. Competencies among practitioners at the leadership level
can trickle down through the organisation, positively impacting morale,
motivation, commitment, and ultimately business results. The way the leaders in
an organisation acts is the way the employees identify with their organisational
background or its culture. A practitioner sometime struggles in his profession
not because s/he lacks the technical skills or knowledge to do the job, but rather
because s/he has a competency deficit (for example, being unable to delegate or
motivate others), which ultimately undermines his leadership.
Specialisation in Contacting Agencies and Request for Funding
All projects and organisations require heaps of resources to be paid for. Getting
the funding for an organisation is always a daunting prospect. More so, as funding
structures are complicated and differ significantly between branches of study,
spheres and nations. Nevertheless, there is some generic specialised knowledge
for bringing funders which once acquired, always helps. Some categories of
funding agencies are:
1) Government research funding organisations
2) Government contract research (for Ministries and agencies)
3) Foundations and charitable trusts
4) Private sector corporations
5) International funding/aid agencies
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Many funders have restrictions on which individuals and organisations can apply.
Some have funding rounds at certain times of the year. Others follow very precise
and specific application procedures and decline applications which do not fit the
bill. Some funders have nominated areas of focus or priority and hence are
particular about the sort of research they fund. Some include in their funding
programmes, research that is directed to the production and dissemination of
new knowledge. Others place much more emphasis on research likely to have an
immediate impact and which has an action and change orientation. As indicated
earlier, this is called applied research which comes under the purview of practicing
anthropologists. After finding the appropriate funding organisation practitioners
need to gain information about it. For this s/he may ask for the brochure of the
organisation which can tell her/ about their philosophy and the specific eligibility
requirements. With this an application form will be usually added. To know
more about particular funding organisations and the way they perform, their
latest annual report and a catalog of earlier grant receivers can be checked. Also
these organisations have their information uploaded and published on their
websites, which is more up-to-date. They also have application forms available
The practitioner after contacting the funding agency and gaining as much
information as s/he can about that organisation can begin the proposal writing
process. The process of writing an application is long and taxing. The most
important rule thus at the very beginning is that s/he should not expedite the
process of filling up the grant application. An application written in hurry is
shoddy and highly unlikely to get funded. They are also bad for the organisation’s
reputation with potential funders. Hence a practitioner should take time with
her/his application requesting for funds. S/he should meticulously collect and
put together references and transcripts. Enough time should be made use of to
device a logical and sound project. It is found that often application material
consists of elaborate and long directions to fill out where information about
eligibility prerequisites and other prescribed contracts are needed for a positively
efficacious proposal. The practitioner should fully understand the requirements
and restrictions of an application before s/he begins. It is pertinent to adhere to
instructions methodically while filling it out.
Advice may be sought critically from peers from different perspectives which
can result in rewriting the proposal several times before actually submitting it.
The reviewers not only help the practitioner to catch and correct errors of grammar
and spelling, but also asses objectively the conceptual feasibility and practical
worth of his project.
Report Writing Skills
Report gives detailed information about research or an investigation the
practitioner undertakes. The ability to write effective reports is an essential
competency for any successful practitioner. A good report can make a huge
difference to how a practitioner is perceived and how well s/he gets on in her/his
For a practitioner it is essential to carefully prepare and plan her/his report. Good
report writing is often more about what to leave out than what to put in. Before
writing a report a practitioner should be crystal clear about her/his objective. S/
he should be clear in her/his mind about why s/he is writing the report and what
ef Capacity Development fect does s/he wants it to have on its readers. S/he should have all the
information. S/he needs to write the report. While it is quite possible to write a
bad report after completing a good investigation or project, it is impossible to
write a good report until one has successfully located, obtained, sorted and
grouped, evaluated, prioritised and checked the right amount of relevant
information (Bowden, 2004). A practitioner should not include anything in the
report unless it is relevant and it helps her/him achieve her/his objective. It is the
key to effective report writing. A practitioner should spend as much time as is
necessary in designing, testing and revising the skeletal framework of the report.
It should not only cover the structure and content of the report, but also the
relative significance and relationship between the main findings.
According to Bowden (ibid) the steps involved in writing and revising a good
effective report can be enlisted as:
1) Pre-write (targeting, outlining, structuring, developing and checking).
2) Draft the main body and appendices, beginning with a section, subsection
or appendix you feel particularly confident about.
3) Review the main body and appendices.
4) Draft the conclusions, recommendations, introduction and summary, in that
5) Check and amend the report with the assistance of a colleague and your line
6) Issue the report, possibly after discussing, clearing, circulating and agreeing
a draft report.
A document comes from somewhere in time and space and leads toward
somewhere else. Documentation is defined as the process of accumulating and
classifying documents and making them available to others. It can be understood
as documents collected together as evidence or as reference material. It is defined
as a piece of information which has been derived from an information flow,
dynamically evolving, and then converted into a more stable form (Tonfoni 1996,
The practitioners begin with collecting information in any task or project they
undertake. The amount of work involved in collecting information is so huge
that it initiates new requirements and new demands for diverse plans, viewpoints
and ways to adjust to the everyday effort to endure the information workload.
The practitioners thus face a complex information environment and have to cope
with overwhelming quantity of documentation. The technological and conceptual
tools they have are useful but not sufficient. Thus it needs to be balanced with
the inclusion of novel imagination and effective ways of viewing such useful
information. The practicing anthropologist must possess the skill of analysing
the unprocessed information to be shaped later and documented. A good
documentation promotes accurate and effective decision making based upon
reliable information derived from consistent interpretation. Even an accurate
report is the result of accurate transport of one or more conversational interactions
into documental format.
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Representing Oneself through Portfolio or Résumé
To be a successful practitioner, s/he has to devote a good amount of time to
create her/his marketing document which is what we call a résumé. A résumé is
to be made in such a way that it exhibits a perfect combination of practical skills,
creative skills and writing skills. It is important to bring out the spirit of who one
is and convince the employer that s/he is better than others in the job competition.
The practitioner needs to make a portfolio that reflects her/his personal brand
and appeals to employers’ specific needs, such as the need to generate income,
save money, or solve a problem. Such resume should have a formal communication
that indicates her/his command of vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation. It should
display information catalog that clearly talks about her/his knowledge capacities,
skillfulness, striking degrees from colleges, universities etc., association with
known organisations, knowledge of computers, both software and hardware.
Moreover the resume should be designed in such a way taking into consideration
appealing font, layout, and format that it has visual charm.
While writing her/his resume the practitioner is writing her/his future. That’s
why s/he needs to update, advance, and reimage who s/he is. It is while creating
the resume s/he needs to put in expressively her/his zeal, dedication and dexterities
in it. Hence s/he should visualise her/his future career and distinct vocation.
Capacity development efforts by practicing anthropologists need to be carefully
planned. These efforts should have a clear objective and it needs to be monitored
and evaluated along the way. Monitoring involves continuous, systematic
observation and checking on activities and their results while capacity building
work is still in progress. Finally to end it is important to make certain that capacity
developing actions move forward as strategised. This will help to present a
document of how feedbacks are to be utilised and to chuck out unconventionalities
from the preliminary aims and anticipated results. Hence from the unit we have
learnt that with the use of the various techniques and methods of capacity
development, practicing anthropologists can go a long way in bringing about
changes in society in various forms at various levels.
Bowden, J. 2004. Writing a Report: How to Prepare, Write and Present Effective
Reports (7th edition). Oxford: Spring Hill House.
Eade, D. 1997. Capacity Building: An Approach to People Centered Development.
Oxford: Oxfam.
Fals-Borda, O. and Md. A. Rahman (eds.). 1991. Action and Knowledge: Breaking
the Monopoly with Participatory Action Research. London: Intermediate
Technology Publications.
LaFond, A. and Brown, L. 2003. A Guide to Monitoring and Evaluation of
Capacity- Building: Interventions in the Health Sector in Developing Countries,
MEASURE Evaluation Manual Series, UNC, Chapel Hill: Carolina Population
McClelland, D. C. 1984. Motives, Personality and Society: Selected Papers Capacity Development
New York: Praeger Publishers Inc.
OECD. 2006. The Challenge of Capacity Development – Working Towards Good
Practice, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (A Report).
Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.
Picciotto, R. and E. Wiesner (eds.). 1998. Evaluation and Development: The
Institutional Dimension. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Tonfoni, G. 1996. Communication Patterns and Textual Forms. Exeter: Intellect.
Tonfoni, G. 1998. Information Design: The Knowledge Architect’s Toolkit.
Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press.
Suggested Reading
Bryson, J. 1995. Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organisations: A
Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organisational Achievement. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Eade, D. 1997. Capacity Building: An Approach to People Centered Development.
Oxford: Oxfam
Sample Questions
1) Explain capacity development.
2) How does a practicing anthropologist make use of capacity development?
3) Discuss two elements of capacity development.
4) Examine the role played by practicing anthropologists in capacity building.
5) Write short notes:
a) Eras of capacity development
b) Levels of capacity development
c) Language skills
d) Process of collecting funding
Transforming Knowledge
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Cutting Edge in Anthropology
3.3 Practicing Anthropology
3.4 Challenges of Collaborating with Anthropologists
3.5 Paradigm of Participation
3.6 What does Participation Mean?
3.6.1 Degree and Form of Participation
3.6.2 Levels of Participation
3.7 Working in Civil Society and the State
3.7.1 How to Start up Civil Society Organisations
3.7.2 As a Charitable Trust
3.7.3 As a Society under the Society Registration Act 1860 (NGO)
3.7.4 License under Section 25 of the Companies Act
3.8 Summary
Suggested Reading
Sample Questions
Learning Objectives
After going through this unit you will be able to:
Ø appreciate anthropological knowledge as an important skill which is valuable
in the activities for anthropo or people centered development;
Ø understand the role of anthropologists in promoting people centered public
policies and civil society organisations; and
Ø participate effectively and efficiently as an anthropologist in the public action.
In order to enable anthropologists to put anthropology into practice more efficiently
and effectively in an inter-disciplinary manner, this unit is planned to provide
understanding about varied role and relevance of anthropological knowledge. It
unpacks the knowledge and contribution of anthologists to “see” how the practice
of bottom-up approach can influence policies and practices. In this direction, the
unit focuses on three issues; anthropologists’ participation in the policies and
civil society organisations; anthropological skills and perspectives for effective
and efficient participation, and it also suggests the ways and means to start one’s
own organisation for usage of anthropological skills in the Indian context.
Public Policy means a governing text or a set of rules that are successful in
binding people to its mandates when actually practiced in a social field.
Public Action means action for better access and utilisation of public benefits.
It can be lead by a group of people or by the state or even both.
Participation in Civil 3.2 CUTTING EDGE IN ANTHROPOLOGY Societies and the State
Every discipline is respected and dedicated to truth-seeking. ‘Disciplines have
an important political role in representing, reproducing and promoting the
discipline within and beyond the academy’ (Mills, 2003). Anthropology with it
scientific rigour grounded in the “society” as a real life laboratory, is often centered
around peoples’ choices or alternate solutions. This strategic design of the
anthropological discipline makes it holistic and allows liberty to use the best of
science and social science approaches.
In professions, often the discipline by its specialised skills consciously or
unconsciously create knowledge hegemony and exclusion. Success of the
discipline is not in creating specialised knowledge and skills, but in putting
peoples’ knowledge in the centre stage. According to C.P. Snow, ‘the scientist as
the possessor of “foresight”, might neglect to account for the condition under
which that foresight might be preserved in the political or administrative arena’.
In this regards anthropology as a discipline, possess a cutting edge due to its
priority over “people knowledge” as a real life laboratory.
The best example of anthropology in practice, I remember is of my doing
anthropology in 1989 from University of Delhi, Delhi. Now my classmates
are working in academia within the university, management institutes, NGOs,
the Government, with corporate houses, lawyers, Indian army and human
resource managers in hotel industries or operating their own enterprises.
One common constituent of accomplishment behind every member is the
knowledge of anthropology. Anthropology as a discipline attempts to
understand “others” with bottom-up approach.
Anthropology makes it easy to understand “others” – extract from personal
communication with classmates.
The high degree of priority that lay at the people’s knowledge makes anthropology
pivotal today. Anthropology as a discipline allows varied domain knowledge to
participate and practice in the daily life. According to the American Anthropologist
Association, a prestigious association of anthropologists across the world,
“anthropological study and training provide the knowledge, skills and tools to
work with people, study the past, and shape the future. Today’s anthropologists
do not just work in the exotic locations”. Goodenough in the article “Anthropology
in the 20th Century and Beyond” wrote that ‘anthropology covers virtually all
facets of human existence and human history from its very beginning. Significant
advances have been made on many fronts, often involving the interdisciplinary
cooperation not only among the subfields of anthropology but with other scientific
and humanistic disciplines as well. Perhaps the most important contribution to
public understanding and social policy has come from the demonstration, with
in- creasing sophistication, that cultural differences are accounted for by history
and ecology rather than biology’(2002, pp. 435).
Examples across the world suggest that technologies, market and even states fail
to deliver if it isn’t able to understand the world view (peoples’ perspective). As
a corollary, anthropologists have established themselves in large corporate firms
designing market strategy, policy makers – bridging the gap between the people
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and programmes in public system, and working in the civil society organisations
to advocate equitable distribution of development outcomes and options in the
Anthropologists engaged beyond the university is not a new phenomenon. In an
article “Towards an Anthropology of Public Policy” according to Wedel et al.,
“anthropologists of American, British, and other traditions have long recognised
the intertwining of anthropological topics with policy. For example, Boas studies
of immigrants, conducted at the behest of the United States Immigration
Commission, demonstrated that “race” is a changing, social construct and that
physical differences between “races” are variable and depend on context” (2005,
pp. 31). “Many British social anthropologists, such as Edward E. Evans Pritchard,
Max Gluckman, Raymond Firth and Frederik Barth, have studied how social
institutions and social policies are organised, function, and change and the way
these influence social actors, social boundaries, and the construction of social
identities. Belshaw argued that anthropologists should look at social interactions,
exchanges, and processes, such as nationalism and development, from the ground
up, in relation to colonialism and those in power; he suggested that in
understanding these relationships and complex processes, we can glimpse the
way in which men and women create society. As he summed it up, “In an ultimate
sense, society is itself policy making” (cited from Wedel, 2005, pp. 32). On the
other hand, some exemplary work done on national character that influenced the
state and academic perspective are by Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum and
the Sword on Japanese national character (1946) and Margaret Mead’s And Keep
Your Powder Dry: An Anthropologist Looks at America (1942).
In India, anthropology has long existed in arenas outside the university, particularly
in the Government, especially for the Planning Commission of India. In the
Second Plan, an important landmark was the opening of 43 Special Multipurpose
Tribal Blocks (SMPTB) later called Tribal Development Blocks (TDB). Each
block was planned for about 25,000 people as against 65,000 in a normal block.
In 1959 the SMPTB Committee chaired by Verrier Elwin, studied the working
of these blocks and found that they were proving useful (pp. 32) (http://
Similarly during the Fifth Plan period, the concept of Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) was
implemented. On the eve of this plan, the tribal situation had been evaluated by
an Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of S.C. Dube and by a Task Force
on Tribal Areas under L.P. Vidyarthi. Dube opined that, “individual welfare
approach and schematic block development approach are inappropriate for these
areas. An integrated development approach should cover the entire tribal areas.
The problem…will be different for states which have a tribal majority and for
those in which the community is in a minority. The tribal majority states in the
North East are compact and viable units, whose plans in effect are plans of tribal
development. No separate area development plans for tribals for these statesare
necessary.” (pp. 34)
Participation in Civil M.N. Srinivas, in an article titled “Practicing Social Anthropology in India” Societies and the State
in the Annual Review of Anthropology (Vol. 26,1997, pp. 1-24) about his
career as an anthropologist, writes, “my becoming a social anthropologist
was largely accidental. After passing the intermediate examination at the
University of Mysore in May 1933, I was wondering which subjects to
take for the BA course when fate walked in” (pp.1). Further, he letters that
“I was unemployed and in the midst of an intellectual and moral crisis. It
was at this juncture that I came across, quite accidentally, Ruth Benedict’s
Patterns of Culture (1934). I found the book fascinating, and its main idea
of looking at cultures holistically and characterising each culture on the
basis of its dominant theme was a refreshing contrast to looking at cultures
as assemblages of myriad discrete elements drawn from different parts of
the world and across millennia”. What attracted M. N. Srinivas most was
that Benedict “demonstrated the integral relation between a culture and
its members, showing how in each culture some personality types are
preferred while others are considered undesirable” (pp.7).
Many early anthropologists, such as Patrick Geddes, S. C. Roy, and Verrier Elwin,
attracted towards the discipline through their involvement in vital social issues.
Geddes, for instance, who set up the Bombay Department of Sociology, was a
town planner, Roy, who started the journal Man in India, became interested in
advocating for the entitlements of the tribals(Sundar, pp.188). Verrier Elwin,
while working in the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh wrote several monographs.
He submitted a report on the functioning of Special Multipurpose Tribal Blocks
and made a number of useful recommendations
The extent and form of involvement of anthropologists have increased steadily.
Anthropologists have taken three positions- (1) practicing in academics; (2) as
practitioners in the state, civil society organisations and in the development
agency; (3) practicing as academicians and as practitioners both by providing
strategic directions. In the last position very often challenge remains to balance
between the professional needs and retaining the principles of the discipline.
Franz Boas referred it as “the service of truth.” Boas as the first president of the
American Anthropological Association, was censured in 1919 after he criticised
scholars who served as spies during World War I. Boas suggested that
anthropologists need to preserve a distinction between spies and scholars.
The advantage of being an anthropologist has its own limitations and challenges.
These challenges and limitations must to be overcome for an effective
participation in the professional life. Anthropology is practiced in two forms;
while disseminating disciplinary knowledge in the form of theories and concepts
in the universities; and the other form is more towards utilisation of
anthropological knowledge for the public good while working for the state, civil
society and corporate houses. There is an inherent resistance to bridge these two,
especially in India. Often, “one sense that with the growing power of university
bureaucracies and rising teaching loads, disciplinary careers are increasingly tied
in with institutional fortunes” (Mills, 2003, pp.13). The current anthropology
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and anthropologists need to focus on the contemporary issues by creating
new concepts and application of established knowledge for the well being of
In a larger professional environment, it is important to revisit the problems of
collaboration between social scientists and the practicing professions as elaborated
by Cottrell. Problems in the areas of collaboration can be classified as (1) those
occasioned by sub-cultural differences in values, goals, ideologies, languages,
and technologies characterising different professions and disciplines, (2) those
deriving from the nature of the setting in which the social scientist is placed and
his position and status in that setting (3) those of role ambiguity and incongruence
in mutual expectations.
In dealing with these problems of inter-professional relations, the kinds of
activities effective in surmounting barriers to efficient collaboration in practice,
Cottrell (1963) suggests to:
1) Developing optimal initial orientation and level of expectation. By optimal
initial orientation, it is meant to evolve perspectives of the discipline.
2) Maximising mutual assimilation of professional sub-cultural values,
ideologies, technologies, and language;
3) Securing an appropriate structural position in the institutional setting for the
social scientist;
4) Clarification of the roles of the parties to the undertakings; and
5) Increasing the interpersonal skills of the participants.
In professional anthropology, the discipline needs to focus on evolving broader
perspectives of the students in the initial orientation. As an anthropologist, one
needs to nurture their student with maximisation and openness to appreciate
inter-disciplinary perspectives. It allows an individual opportunity to identify
and understand the areas of one’s intervention based on the existing demand
within the institution. Eventually it facilitates in aligning institutional goals with
the personal interests and skills. This leads to securing appropriate position in
the institutional setting. Often conflict between personal and organisational goal
and roles are critical factors of failure in collaborative work in the profession.
Participation opens up space where various actors take up local concerns
and create alternatives. The outcomes of participation depend on the
institutional design, the degree of organisation of civil society, and the
policies of state. It is demonstrated that participation leads to accountability,
transparency resulting in increase in efficiency and effectiveness of the
It means that the power and influence in the organisations requires preparedness
with sensitivities of the other stakeholders and ability to communicate the purpose
of the end product around “people”. Anthropology as a discipline contributes
significantly to how we define “ourselves”. Appropriately recommended in the
article The Future of Anthropology, about “What Are Some Things We
Participation in Civil
Societies and the State
(anthropologist), Should Do? Could Do”? , James Peacock proposes that, “first,
“participate, then lead! Head projects that reach beyond anthropology and beyond
the academy. Second, formulate positive proposals; do not be content to be mere
social critics. Third, reach out. Think and communicate beyond the discipline
and the academy” (1997,pp 14). In essence, the success lays in making
development more participatory and making our skills and attitude more
In the contemporary world neither market, nor state works in a cultural vacuum.
In all the above stages of growth, convergence of human resources is the most
critical factor of success. This allows creation of efficient institutions/organisations
and improves the effectiveness of available use of technologies. In this regard,
the anthropological tools and techniques of understanding people’s knowledge
acts as a cutting edge in the profession. How best you know your client is the
concern of the day. Because the success of any intervention, whether in the market
or by the state lies on the degree of proximity or to overlap between the people’s
need and choices made by the organisations or the state.
Fig. 3.1: Paradigm of Engagement, Adopted from Scott Chambel,1996, Journal of American
Planning Association
Even the most spatially excluded communities are directly influenced by three
component of paradigm; justice, environment and economy. A particular society
may have traditional technologies to extract resources and institutions to facilitate
access and control of resources. In the contemporary world with the globalisation
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of market there are increased interdependent societies. In this regard, skills of
anthropologists to understand and instill participation are extremely advantageous.
Participation as a concept gained impetus during 1970s, in response to the
realisation by the development experts that development programmes failed due
to lack of participation. Some of the critical concerns can be summarised as
1) That a programme that meets the felt needs of the beneficiaries will mobilise
more of their cooperation than those that are thought to be imposed from
2) Top down approach and arm-chair analysis are believed to perpetuate the
power of planners to impose standards where arm chair excellence becomes
a pretext for designing and assessing programmes or projects, and lastly
3) Irrespective of the programme or project expressing felt needs, the efficiency
of the project is enhanced if the power is shared with the users.
Anthropologists have the ability to influence the quality of stakeholders’
participation. The participation of stakeholders results in the process of
decentralised approach for access and control of resources. The quality of
stakeholders’ participation influence policy formulation, locally derived
investment choices, alternative programme implementation designs, and effective
management decisions and establish the necessary sense of ownership. In turn,
participation as a process of exchange of knowledge between the stakeholders
also builds the capacity of participating stakeholders. Therefore, participation as
a strategy has become more common after liberalisation and globalisation in the
mid 90s, clubbed with judicial activism.
Inevitably participation is often thought to be limited to rural community. The
fact of the matter is that today business houses need participation of the
shareholders, state require citizens to participate and civil society organisations
also need to engage with the community. Participation of the “community” or
common interest group is an organised strategy to increase accountability of
success and failure.
Participation is ultimately concerned with organised efforts to increase control
over resources and regulative institutions in a given social situation. Especially
on the part of groups of those stakeholders who up till then were excluded from
such control (Pearse and Stifel, 1979).With regard to development, participation
includes people’s involvement in decision-making processes, in implementing
programmes, their sharing in the benefits of development programmes and their
involvement in efforts to evaluate such programmes (Cohen and Uphof, 1977).
The World Bank defined participation as a process through which stakeholders
influence and share control over development initiatives and the decisions and
resources which affect them (World Bank, 1994). It means that participation is a
process of empowerment of the deprived and the excluded. This view is based
Participation in Civil
Societies and the State
on the recognition of differences in political, social and economic power among
different social groups and classes. Participation in this sense necessitates the
creation of organisations of the poor which are democratic, independent and
self-reliant (Ghai, 1990).
3.6.1 Degree and Form of Participation
Participation is understood with the degree and form on which stakeholders
participate. Arnstein (1969) defines participation as the redistribution of power
that enables the have-not citizens, presently excluded from the political and
economic processes, to be deliberately included in the future. According to him,,
it is the strategy by which stakeholders can induce significant social reform which
enables them to share in the benefits of the affluent society (p. 216). She has
tried to explain the degree of participation with an analogy of a ladder. Arnstein
stresses that the ladder is a simplification and that the eight rungs are an imperfect
representation of what is really a continuum, where a clear distinction between
levels is not always possible. The diagram below illustrates the fact that there
are different degrees and forms of citizen participation.
3.6.2 Levels of Participation
Fig. 3.2: Ladder of Participation, Source: Arnstein, 1969
However, according to the few scholars, such as Hayward et al. (2004: 99), this
linear progression from bottoms-up may not be the appropriate to understand
participation. Pimbert and Pretty, (1994), proposed a matrix of participation based
on the levels and components of participation.
Citizen control
Delegated power
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis Levels of Participation Components & Characteristics of
Passive Participation People are told what is going to happen or
has already happened. Top down,
information shared belongs only to external
Participation in Information People answer questions posed by
Giving researchers or investigative officers, using
various data collection methods. People are
seen as the information bearer and do not
necessarily influence decision.
Participation by Consultation People participate by being consulted and
external agencies listen to their views.
External agencies define both problems and
Participation for Material People participate by providing resources,
Resources for example labour in return for cash or food.
Functional Participation People participate by forming groups to meet
predetermined objectives relating to the
project, which can involve the development
or promotion of externally initiated social
Interactive Participation People participate in joint analysis, which
leads to joint action-plans and formation of
new groups or strengthening of old ones.
Self-mobilisation Already empowered, take decisions
independently of external institutions. People
participate by taking initiatives independent
of external change systems.
In both Arnstein’s ladder and Pimbert and Pretty’s model, there are two implied
assumptions which classify participation:
1) Stakeholders in a given situation have different degree of access to participate,
2) The terms on which the stakeholders participate.
The difference in degree of access could be due to lack of knowledge, resources
or interest. These are individual factors. Often the organisations or institutions
are not inclusive. The above two criteria are also applicable in the market economy,
the answers lie in:
1) The degree of access that the socially, politically, economically and spatially
excluded communities have to the markets, and
2) The terms on which they participate in such markets.
The above two criteria are elucidated by organised participation of the civil society
members. Anthropologists with the skill of promoting participation are best suited
in the Non Government Organisations or Civil Society Organisations.
Participation in Civil Civil society vary widely according to: Societies and the State
o Size and scale of operation,
o Sector of activity and approach,
o Religious orientation, their function (service providers, social movements,
networks, or apex organisations),
o Their relationships to donors,
o Their organisational sophistication, and other factors
Types of Civil Society and forms of accountability:
o Social Movement
o National/Religious Groups
o Social Organisation
o NGOs
The growing role of civil society organisations in promoting equitable access to
marginalised communities for participating in the three different spheres, namely
in the market, state and communities, will become pivotal in connecting and
combining market practices and policies with the strategies of empowerment
and entitlements of the state.
Individual knowledge and expertise are undeniably important aspects of citizen
engagement, and the relationship between education and participation is important
evidence in this regard (Lake and Huckfeldt, 1998). Civil society in service
industry is a major job creator worldwide (Salmon et al,1999). “In countries
such as Germany, the growth rate of the sector with respect to employment has
by far surpassed those of the public and the for-profit sector in the last decades”
(Priller et al, 1999). The Blair Government in the United Kingdom worked out a
strategy titled “Compact” for the purpose of mainstreaming of this sector into
public policy. In this regard, the national policy on the Voluntary Sector formulated
by the Government of India is really a path-breaking move by the Government
to recognise the importance, indispensability and penetration of the VOs. India’s
voluntary organisations (VO) policy endeavours variety of civil society role as a
partner in the development process.
The Voluntary Organisation policy of India endeavours to provide conducive
environment for growth and development of voluntary sector in India. These
consist of the supportive legal framework legislations, rules regulating VOsstate
relations, tax legislations, and other necessary legislations and requirements
affecting VOs and their operations. They cover aspects concerning VOs’
establishment, governance, regulation, partnerships, access to funds,
sustainability, capacity enhancement and accountability.
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis Activity: Role Clarity
Step 1: Identify roles of anthropologists in the three sectors.
Step 2: Then identify overlapping roles between Government and Business;
similarly between Business and Civil Society, and between Civil Society and
Step 3: Identify what are the overlapping roles which are common to all the
three sectors.
The answer to this activity will give you an understanding of core roles and
responsibilities of anthropologists and between the specific sectors in a given
Most developing countries have struggled with the issues involved in creating
such an enabling legal environment, and it goes to the credit of the
aspects. According to Sen (1999), “many developing countries and countries in
transition have established or are in the process of establishing legal mechanisms
to allow contracting of NGOs for the provision of services the State can no
longer afford to provide.” But there needs to be a word of caution before jumping
onto the bandwagon. According to a study undertaken by Robinson and White
(1997), there are a number of common deficiencies with the services provided
by this sector. These include: limited coverage, variable quality, amateurish
approach, high staff turnover, lack of effective management systems, poor cost
effectiveness, lack of co-ordination, and poor sustainability due to dependence
of external assistance. Considering these lacunae pointed out in the study, it
would be imprudent to building capacities in them and weeding out other
deficiencies before handing over the State’s responsibilities to VOs.
The term ‘civil’ has emerged from the term civility. According to Neera
Chandhoke, ‘the concept of civil society highlighted one basic
precondition of democracy: state power has to be monitored, engaged
with, and rendered accountable through intentional and engaged citizen
action’ (2007).
Role of civil society in the state is directly linked to democratisation of the state.
With the rapid globalisation, market and private sector are influencing the role
for civic engagement. According to Zimmer and Stecker (2004, pp.4), ‘non profit
(civil society) organisations are participating in at least three societal spheres
Participation in Civil
Societies and the State
1) As provider of services for their members and /or the general public,
2) As part of the market economy in advanced societies, and
3) As lobbyists (advocacy) for the interests of their members, the common
weal or on a specific cause.
3.7.1 How to Start up Civil Society Organisations
As an anthropologist or an expert with anthropological knowledge one can
establish a business firm with a social cause commonly termed as social
entrepreneur and set up a civil society organisations (CSO), commonly termed
as Non-Government Organisation (NGO) or Non-profit Organisation (NPO) or
Trust. To anthropologists who want to start up their organisation, they need to
possess three important abilities: knowledge of establishing the organisation;
skills pursuing the mission, and leadership of managing the organisation.
In Indian context, there are three possible options that exist for registration. An
association of likeminded people can register for legal identify for carrying out
the social objectives under the following Indian Acts:
1) As a Charitable Trust
2) As a Society under the Society Registration Act 1860,and
3) As a licensed company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956.
3.7.2 As a Charitable Trust
In the Trust, a property or activity is dedicated to public utility. Often Hindu,
Sikhs and other community members created charitable /religious endowments,
while Muslims created wakfs. Section 3 of the Indian Trust Act defines “Trust”
as an obligation annexed to the ownership of property, and arising out of a
confidence reposed in and accepted by the owner and accepted by him for the
benefit of another, or of anther and the owner. Trust can only be created by a
person competent to contract or on behalf of a minor. In case of a trust claiming
exemption under section 11 of the Income Tax Act, it is essential that the Trust is
duly registered.
3.7.3 As a Society under the Society Registration Act 1860
A Non Government Organisation (NGO) or Voluntary Organisation (VO) can be
formed or registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 by minimum
seven or more persons for a common purpose. There are two documents required:
1) A Covering Letter
2) An affidavit of the President/Secretary of the society on a non-judicial stamp
paper duly attested by the Notary or 1st Class Magistrate
3) A proof of address (house tax or rent receipt in case of rented premise) a
4) A duly signed Memorandum of Association, and
5) Rules and regulation of the organisation.
Transforming Knowledge
into Praxis
The Memorandum of Associations typically includes:
1) The name (name of the NGO is proposed by the members and depending
upon availability of that name, a society is registered on the proposed name).
2) It has to have a registered office address.
3) The object or objectives of the society.
4) The name, occupation and contact address of the members (minimum 7
5) The names, occupation and address of the governing body.
3.7.4 License under Section 25 of the Companies Act
Under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956, an association can be formed for
the purpose of promoting commerce, art, science, religion, charity or for any
other public action. Under this act, the association cannot be termed as “Limited”
or “Private Limited”. Unlike an NGO, its profits or other income can be used for
promoting its object. An NGO cannot have any profit as per the current legal
system. What is common between an NGO and the Companies Act is that it
prohibits payment of any dividend to its members.
As an anthropologist one can also work in the bilateral agencies, such as DFID
of British Government, USAID of the USA, and similarly many countries have
their development departments in Delhi. There are several foundations, such as
Ford Foundation and large number of foreign funded Sectoral programmes where
anthropologist are required as an expert.
Anthropology as a field science has contributed, and continues to contribute, to
social policy research, practice, and advocacy in a number of different ways; it
has taken on increasing relevance as the world is rapidly being transformed by
the process of globalisation (Okongwu and Mencher, 2000). Nevertheless
anthropologists have had less influence than the economists on public policy
and developmental practices. In the article, “The Anthropology of Public Policy:
Shifting Terrains”, Anne Francis Okongwu and Joan P. Mencher suggests there
are a number of ways in which anthropologists have made our opinions known
(2000), such as by:
1) Documenting the conditions of the peoples or communities.
2) Analysing, writing, and making public the effects of the government policies
and suggesting alternative policies.
3) Working with or against-elected representatives or the government officials.
4) Influencing members of bi-lateral or multi-lateral aid agencies in their varied
roles and/or working from within these agencies to pinpoint critical issues.
5) Working with marginalised or migrant populations, both forced and voluntary
in terms of both policies and programmes to deal with addressing their
Participation in Civil
Societies and the State
6) Studying cultural capita, access and its intersection with both formal and
informal labour markets. Studying strategies of indigenous community’s
resistance and resilience to external forces and creating alternate solutions,
7) Bridging the gap between the state, market and the civil society
The above strategic engagement of anthropologists can be broadly summarised
into three categories: first and foremost especially in the spatially excluded areas,
anthropologists work as an extension of the state; second, by understanding
people’s perspective anthropologists advance local sustainable alternate solutions
or options which are intended towards the empowerment of poor and the /
marginalised, and lastly with active engagement with the community,
anthropologists have inbuilt capability to bridge the gap between the state and
the market, poor and the rich.
However, successes in today’s globalised paradigm envisage professionals to
possess the ability to work in collective and collateral environment where ‘purpose
or utility of the discipline’ dominates over the ‘individuality or identity of the
discipline.’ More than ever with the growing inequity around the world,
anthropologists are required to recognise their strengths and weaknesses as a
professional. The sustainable partnership in profession evolves by the recognition
of personal strengths and respecting the weaknesses of others. This allows
partnership to achieve collective goals.
To conclude, continuing developments in the 21st century will require further
interdisciplinary cooperation, involving such things as genome research, research
in material science, research on the structure and workings of the human brain,
and the development of improved technology for making records of cultural
phenomena (Goodenough, 2002. pp 435). Anthropology as a discipline with its
convergence of three sub-disciplines, namely physical, social and archeology,
does provide a wide range of interdisciplinary advantages. However, in the due
course of time disparity within sub-discipline has increased with increasing
specialisation. Therefore to excel in professions, anthropologists need to integrate
intra-disciplinary skills and appreciate trans-disciplinary knowledge.
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Will send by email you may cut and paste the correct reference.
Suggested Reading
Anthropology Put to Work, Ed. by Les Field, Richard G. Fox Published by BERG
Anthropologists at Work: Responses to Student Questions About Anthropology
Careers Developed by: The National Association for the Practice of Anthropology,
American Anthropological Association, 1994.
Sample Questions
1) Explain the role of anthropologists in influencing the programmes and
policies of the state.
2) What do you understand by participation? How it helps the community?
3) What are different forms of organisations you can set up?