Introduction to Research Methods

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS3DP3012

Semester and Year Offered: Semester 1

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Ishita Dey

Email of course coordinator:


Course Objectives/Description:

The course on methods intends to instill in the development practitioner the quest for researching the rural realities through observation, interaction, listening, building trust, engaging with the community, critically analyzing the observations and findings. Ethical considerations are important throughout this entire process of research. The methods courses would engage with problematic questions about what is the role of the development practitioner as a researcher. Is s/he doing research to bring about transformation? Whose transformation is this—the researcher’s or the participants’ or both? Should there be a binary between the two like traditional social science research where the goal is justice and transformation? The methods courses traversing the areas of conventional quantitative and qualitative techniques would aim towards exploring the philosophical enquiries of experience as a researcher, skills learnt and scholarship generated through the research.

How is it possible to study or research development qualitatively—not through numbers measuring development, but through ethnography and narratives understanding underdevelopment and thereby of course having a picture about development? Since mainstream positivist knowledge creation gives a lot of space for statistical data on growth and development, to hear the voices of the marginalized, ethnographic and life history methods are the intrusive and unobtrusive research methods that can be adopted to study underdevelopment--the rural or the urban poor.


Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Co-research with community their life-worlds, issues and 'problems'
  2. Capacity to listen to and communicate with rural communities
  3. Capacity to engage with groups and form transformative collectives

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit I: Studying (Under) Development in India: The first module looks at how development and thereby under-development has been conventionally researched in India. Tracing its colonial genesis and derivative post-colonial nature, the module exposes students to how pre-given theories of development emanating from European context were used in a positivist way to explain the lacking other of the third world.

Unit II: Fieldwork, Anthropology and Ways of Studying Development: The second module draws extensively from the disciplines of sociology and developmental anthropology to enable students to construct bottom-up ways to thinking and doing development and its grassroot practices.

Unit III: Researching Indian Villages: The third module looks at ways in which Indian villages have been studied. Taking a genealogical approach, the module traces its origins from being a structural-functional spatial and demographic unit of rural India to being the heart of the diversity of developmental impact and effects.

Unit IV: Narratives of Indian Outcastes: The final module looks at narratives from the margins of India’s development and of Indian villages. In doing so, the module offers the students an insight into what gets missed in the conventional understanding. These narratives is to enable students to be aware of following up with meaning of events and of subjectivities reinforced through subtle and mundane practices of everyday life.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Critical Review Paper: Framework for researching the rural and its development (50%)
  • Reflexive Report: Village Stay and Study Report Immersion I (50%)

Reading List:

  • Gunder Frank Andre (1970) The Development of Underdevelopment, Monthly Review Press, New York
  • Ray, Prasanta (2004) Samkhya and Vyanjana: Understanding Underdevelopment, Indian Institute of Development Studies, Occasional Paper 3
  • Jodhka Surinder From ‘Book View’ to ‘Field View’: Social Anthropological Concerns of Indian Village, Working Paper Series, Numbers 5, Department of Sociology, University of Hyderabad
  • Jodhka, Surinder Nation and Village: Images of Rural India in Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar, Economic and Political Weekly, August 10, 2002 pp 3343-3353, available online at
  • Das, Arvind N. Changel: Three Centuries of an Indian Village, The Journal of Peasant Studies pp3-59
  • Badri Narayan DomiNation: How the Fragments Imagine the Nation: Perspectives from Some North Indian Villages, Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 29, No. 1 (2005), pp. 123-140, available online at
  • Sujatha Pluralism in Indian Medicine : Medical lore as a genre of medical knowledge, Contributions to Indian Sociology 2007 41: 169, available online at
  • Dipankar Gupta Whither the Indian Village: Culture and Agriculture in 'Rural' India, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 40, No. 8 (Feb. 19-25, 2005), pp. 751-758, available online at
  • Om Prakash Valmiki (2003) Joothan: A Dalit’s Life, Translated from Hindi by Arun Prabha Mukherjee, Stree Samya Books, Kolkata
  • Baby Kamble (2009) The Prisons We Broke, Translated from the Marathi by Maya Pandit, Orient Blackswan, Hyderabad
  • Mahasweta Devi: Outcast: Four Stories, Seagull Books, 2002
  • Saptarshi Mandal Dalit Life Narratives as Ethnographies of Justice, paper presented at the Second Critical Studies Conference, Calcutta Research Group, September 2007
  • Ranajit Guha (ed.) (1987) Chandra’s Death in Subaltern Studies V pp 135-165


  • Pratichi India Trust (2009) The Pratichi Education Report II: Primary Education in West Bengal, Changes and Challenges
  • Bremen, Jan (2007) The Poverty Regime in Village India: half a century of work and life at the bottom of rural economy in South Gujarat
  • Srinivas, M N Village Studies, Participant Observation and Social Science Research in India
  • Padhi, Ranjana (2012) Those who did not Die: Impact of Agrarian Crisis on Women in Punjab, Sage Publications, New Delhi
  • Vijayendra Rao and Paromita Sanyal Dignity through Discourse: Poverty and the Culture of Deliberation in Indian Village Democracies, 2010 629: 146 The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, available online at
  • Vani S. Kulkarni The Making and Unmaking of Local Democracy in an Indian Village, The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 2012 642: 152, available online at
  • Patricia Jeffery and Roger Jeffery, (1996) Don’t Marry Me to a Plowman!: Woman’s everyday lives in rural North India Westview Press
  • Shruti Chaudhry and Taneesha Devi Mohan Of Marriage and Migration: Bengali and Bihari Brides in a U.P. Village, Indian Journal of Gender Studies 2011 18: 311, available online at
  • Pramod K Nayar The Poetics of Postcolonial Atrocity: Dalit Life Writing, Testimonio, and Human Rights, Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, Vol. 42, No. 3-4 pp 237-264, 2012
  • Gautam Bhan ''This is no longer the city I once knew''. Evictions, the urban poor and the right to the city in millennial Delhi, Environment and Urbanization 2009 21: 127, available online at
  • Sarasij Majumder “Who wants to marry a farmer?” Neoliberal industrialization and the politics of land and work in rural West Bengal Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 64 (2012) 84-98