Evaluation is political. I am reminded of that fact when I least expect it.
In yesterday’s AEA 365 post, I am reminded that social justice and political activity may be (probably are) linked; are probably sharing many common traits.
In that post the author lists some of the principles she used recently:
- Evaluation is a political activity.
- Knowledge is culturally, socially, and temporally contingent.
- Knowledge should be a resource of and for the people who create, hold, and share it.
- There are multiple ways of knowing (and some ways are privileged over others).
Evaluation is a trans-discipline, drawing from many many other ways of thinking. We know that politics (or anything political) is socially constructed. We know that ‘doing to’ is inadequate because ‘doing with’ and ‘doing as’ are ways of sharing knowledge. (I would strive for ‘doing as’.) We also know that there are multiple ways of knowing.
(See Belenky , Clinchy [with Belenky] , Goldberger , and Tarule, Basic Books, 1986 as one.)
(See: Gilligan , Harvard University Press, 1982; among others.)
How does evaluation, social justice, and politics relate?
What if you do not bring representation of the participant groups to the table?
If they are not asked to be at the table or for their opinion?
What if you do not ask the questions that need to be asked of that group?
To whom ARE your are your questions being addressed?
Is that equitable?
Being equitable is one aspect of social justice. There are others.
Evaluation needs to be equitable.
I will be in Atlanta next week at the American Evaluation Association conference. ‘
Maybe I’ll see you there!