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ID number:996324
Published: 09.05.2003.
Language: English
Level: Secondary school
Literature: n/a
References: Not used

Evaluation has learned a lot from anthropology, and this is another potentially useful lesson: Whyte found that a participatory approach helped to solve ethical problems, improve factual accuracy and strengthen research (1984:221,223). Those who are against this argue that service users are not researchers, and that it is time-consuming to include service users in steering groups. However, non-research professionals are now regularly included in research steering groups, so the argument that service users cannot be included because they are not researchers has worn thin. Lemert held the view that everyone is a social theorist (1999:1), and I would enlarge on this to assert that everyone is also an evaluation researcher; we all assess the quality of work, relationships, interactions, leisure activities etc in the course of our daily lives, and base future actions on assessments of past actions. Of course there is a difference between this and rigorous professional evaluation, so it is more time-consuming to include service users in steering groups - but as the overall discovery made by evaluation to date is that finding solutions to social problems is much more difficult than originally anticipated (House 1993:5), this seems a small price to pay for more robust findings.…

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