Cultural values, power and development practice
Frequently, within a development context values from a 'Western' perspective, framed within a teleological worldview, are imposed on communities. This often results in negative outcomes for the community for whom the development is intended. Firstly, large amounts of resources are often poured into activities that have little or no relevance for communities, as they are incongruent with the communities' values. Therefore, many projects and programmes are not sustained and the benefits intended by the development organisation never met. Secondly, projects at times have benefited some sectors of the community over others, thereby leading to conflict within the community. Lastly, and importantly, within these interactions, issues of relative power and representation are often not addressed resulting in the imposition of one set of cultural values over another, and thereby engendering a form of colonialism. This research explored the interplay between values and power within development, through specifically examining how development professionals understand, interpret and represent the cultural values of the communities with whom they are working. Consideration was also given to how development professionals' own values shape the development process. This research has shown that values mediate development in many ways. Firstly, they are embedded within development theories and approaches. Secondly, development organisations, development professionals, and communities for whom the 'development' is intended also hold values, which they bring to the development process. The way in which all of these values are mediated and translated into development interventions can be powerful in generating either positive or negative outcomes for communities. Therefore, this research has highlighted the importance of making values and potential power relationships more explicit within development, in addition to the motivations and assumptions of all stakeholders. A Kaupapa Maori Research approach to development has also been shown to offer opportunities for learning on several levels. Firstly, in relation to making values explicit and using these as a platform on which to base development; secondly, through addressing issues of accountability; and thirdly, through emphasising the important link between values and a community's relationship with the natural environment. The significant role of development professionals in facilitating the development process has also been highlighted within this research. However, this research identified that the worldview and attitudes of development professionals can be a considerable constraint in understanding the values (and therefore implicitly the needs) of a community. Therefore, this research has advocated opening up the conceptual space within development for development professionals to undertake a reflexive process of conscious learning.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordscultural values; power relationships; development professionals; sustainable livelihoods approach; Kaupapa Māori Research; colonialism; well-being; sustainability; stakeholders; Maori development; Maori communities; Maori values; rural development; New Zealand; economic growth; development
Fields of Research160804 Rural Sociology; 070106 Farm Management, Rural Management and Agribusiness; 120501 Community Planning; 140218 Urban and Regional Economics; 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations; 200207 Māori Cultural Studies
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