Xavier Rambla Sociologia

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Archive for desembre, 2012

des. 21 2012

Advocacy and Social Research

Since the 1990s the emergence of a global civil society has posited new questions about the potential synergies between advocacy and social research. While  a long tradition of “critical social research” has reflect on its own premises and methods, the many spurs of collaborative work with civil society organisations (CSOs) that have taken place along history have not been systematised in the same way. A few labels such as participatory research and action-research make reference to this strand of researches. However, some participants in the global civil society are interested in creating a new corpus of studies that respond to their concerns. It is not only about challenging epistemological assumptions but about using research as a tool for advocacy.

The Global Campaign for Education has tried to do so for more than a decade. Its focus on monitoring the Education for All goals, certainly, has to do with research on statistical indicators and the topics associated to the goals. Even more, a number of fund designed to promote civil society in education (Commonwealth Education Fund, Real Strategies, Civil Society Education Fund) also encourage CSOs to undertake research that eventually strengthens their action. So far, these studies have focused on budget tracking, girls’ education, educational disadvantage, the individual cost of a quality education, and public-private partnerships (PPPs).

In the Philippines, E-Net has carried out a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of the implications of PPPs for the education system. Actually, in that country the government has been implementing this policy for some decades in order to “decongest” public schools. Although the World Bank and other official studies have already noticed the shortcomings of some current programmes from the point of view of public management, E-Net has also stressed the significant consequences of PPPs for social equity. Thus, debates on PPPs in the Philippines try to contrast both political ideologies and different approaches to the issue drawing on different strands of social research.

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