University of Sussex
Kasper, Eric Calvin.pdf (6.79 MB)

Nurturing emergent agency: networks and dynamics of complex social change processes in Raipur, India

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posted on 2023-06-09, 05:20 authored by Eric Calvin Kasper
This thesis takes up the question, how can agency for people living in informal settlements be strengthened? To address this question, I carried out systemic action research with two NGO partners and residents from seven informal settlements in Raipur, India. This involved organizing ‘slum improvement committees’ (SICs) in each of the seven settlements and carrying out joint actions in support of housing rights and implementation of the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) housing policy. The data on which my analysis is based includes over one hundred conversations between myself and the project participants (both from the settlements as well as the partner NGOs), records of two public events, a social network survey of 46 people living in the participating settlements, a separate set of 9 participatory social network maps (NetMaps), and over two hundred pages of my own field notes based on my observations and participation in the research activities. My thesis makes an original contribution to the study of community agency by analysing it through the lens of complex systems theories and utilising the tools of social network analysis. My thesis also makes an original contribution to research methodology by making the technical analysis participatory, accessible, and useful for the participants. This allowed me to combine analysis of relational structures (social networks) with relational dynamics to show how significant social change happened over the course of the project. My thesis suggests that agency can be strengthened through an organizing practice that brings NGOs, academic researchers, and residents of informal settlements together to build relational power, take collective action, and create social change.


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