Can Mixed Methods Help Us Study Economic Development?

Mumbai, India

Understanding the dynamics of economic development, inequality, and poverty is a complex research challenge. What methods and approaches do justice do this complexity? Could mixed methods approaches help?

The study of poverty and inequality dynamics has been widely explored with both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Disciplines ranging from political science to economics to sociology have tackled these subjects – often separately, but, increasingly, also via mixed methods, sometimes referred to as Q2. Such approaches make use of both qualitative and quantitative approaches to research.

Though this has proven fruitful, the study of economic development and structural transformation more broadly still tends to be heavily dominated by quantitative approaches. Could this mean that we are missing important aspects and research avenues?

There are, without doubt, challenges to mixed-method research: it makes high demands on scholarly competences, especially so when it is extended to interdisciplinary thinking. There are big questions on integrating data generated within different paradigms, working across scales, and doing so to make credible links between macro, meso and micro-level dynamics.

To explore the potential of mixed-method research for studying poverty, inequality, and economic development, the ESRC GPID Research Network –– in collaboration with the EADI-DSA working group on poverty and the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty based at the University of Bergen, Norway –– is organising a scholarly workshop.

The purpose of this workshop is to share ideas and experiences, learn lessons from past and on-going work, and discuss the use of mixed methods research in relation to poverty, inequality dynamics, and economic development and their interactions.

The workshop aims to explore the scope for mixed-method approaches to studying poverty, inequality, and economic development and will do this with a call for papers in three areas:

  1. mixed-method approaches to the measurement of poverty, inequality, and economic development, and the exploration of the linkages between these concepts;
  2. mixed-method approaches to researching the dynamic interaction between poverty, inequality, and economic development and structural transformation;
  3. mixed-method approaches to the study of relational aspects of poverty, including social relations, social networks, power dynamics within relationships.

We invite proposals for paper presentations on each of the topics above from both senior and junior researchers, including PhD students.

The workshop will be held on 6th and 7th September 2018 at Kings College London. The keynote speakers are Paul Shaffer, Trent University, on the ‘State of the art on Q2’ and Naomi Hossain, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, on ‘Mixed methods within large-scale qualitative comparative studies’.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 31 January 2018 and notification of acceptance will be made by 1 March.

Abstracts must not exceed one page and must include: the title of the proposed paper; a presentation of the subject; the central argument; which of the above themes it fits in; the main research questions and/or hypotheses; and key references. A CV no longer than one page must also be submitted. Both can be uploaded here.

Can ‘mixed methods’ help us improve the study of poverty, inequality, and economic development? Help us explore that question.

Lukas Schlogl and Andy Sumner

Andy Sumner is a Reader in International Development in the Department of International Development, King’s College London. He is director of the ESRC Global Poverty & Inequality Dynamics (GPID) Research Network.

Lukas Schlogl is a Research Associate with the ESRC GPID Research Network at King’s College London.