Dr Grady Walker, Senior Research Officer at the Walker Institute, recently published a paper in the International Journal of Qualitative Methods (IJQM) with colleagues from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development. IJQM is a journal that focuses on insights, innovations, and advances in methods and study designs using qualitative or mixed methods research. Dr Walker and his colleagues wrote about a methodology they piloted in Andhra Pradesh, India, as part of a GCRF-funded University of Reading project that seeks to develop an evidence base for Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) through an interdisciplinary soil science and social science research project. ZBNF is a grassroots agrarian movement and low-cost, locally sourced natural farming method that does not rely on the use of agrochemicals and has the potential to meet the twin goals of global food security and conservation of the environment.
The methodology developed by the team uses thematic collages in participatory photography as a means to generate meaningful, contextual themes for participant investigation through group dialogue and consensus. By publishing a study of this approach in a methodology journal, Dr Walker and his co-authors hope researchers in differing contexts might replicate the method and innovate further within the framework. "This method wasn't designed to be used exclusively in the context of smallholder farmers," said Dr Walker. "If deployed in a participatory action research paradigm, we're convinced that the investigations sparked by this method would lead to an intervention on the part of the participants, in line with Paulo Freire's theories of critical consciousness raising," he added.
Next up for the ZBNF social science team is continuing the analysis of the rich data generated through this method using dialogical narrative analysis, an approach that focuses on stories, those who tell them, those who listen to them, and ways that subjective interpretations of these stories can influence actions and decision making.
You can learn more about the project HERE.