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Illuminating Blind Spots

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Illuminating Blind Spots
Date of Event
28th February 2018
Last Booking Date for this Event
28th February 2018
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Illuminating Blind Spots: Realist Evaluation, Innovation and an Architectural Understanding of Social Programmes.

Realist Evaluation is a methodology of assessment that addresses the questions: ‘what works, for whom, under what circumstances, and how’. While using this approach it becomes useful to think about the architectural design of programmes in such a way that a realistic assessment of outcomes is framed with cognizance of this design. Clarifying a programme’s basic architecture facilitates an understanding of how a programme works or is meant to work based on the resources implemented or otherwise manifesting in contexts and how people respond to those resources. 

A common realist argument is that all knowledge is fallible and partial. In other words, it is not possible to capture all causal forces at work when an intervention is placed in a context. Even if that were possible, there is no guarantee that those causal forces will play out in the same way in future iterations of project implementation, as contexts, conditions and resources change. For this reason it is necessary to have an open, emergent, theoretically sensitive appreciation of how programmes work. Although all knowledge is partial, some knowledge is more insightful than others. Our necessary conceptualizations, while focusing on certain aspects inevitably create blind spots in other areas. Thus a realistic endeavor would not only be to cumulate knowledge on programmatic outcomes, but also to illuminate the blind spots that preclude innovation in programme design and implementation.