Human Organization Research: Field Relations and Techniques

By Richard N. Adams; Jack J. Preiss | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE RESEARCH-AND-DEVELOPMENT APPROACH TO CHANGE: PARTICIPANT INTERVENTION IN THE FIELD*
Allan R. Holmberg
I
TRADITIONALLY, anthropologists have approached the study of culture change from the perspective of the outside observer of a naturally ongoing process. By contrast, few attempts have been made to study change from the perspective of an intervening participant, one who both designs and activates the sociocultural process. It is the purpose of this paper to explore some of the potentialities of this latter method -- what I shall here call the research-and-development method or the method of participant intervention -- as a possibly fruitful approach to further investigations of the dynamics of culture change. Specifically, the points on which I would like to focus attention are these:
1. The characteristics by which the research-and-development method may be distinguished from other approaches to the study of change
2. The role of the investigator in the application of this method in the field
3. Some of the possible contributions of this approach to theory and method in the field of culture change

II

In 1952, as part of a research program in Culture and Applied Science, Cornell University, in collaboration with the Indigenous Institute of Peru, arranged a five-year rental of a publicly owned hacienda, called Vicos, on which previous observational studies had been made. Broadly speaking, the purpose of embarking on this experience was twofold: (1) On the theoretical side it was hoped to conduct some form of experi-

____________________
*
A combination of two papers published in Human Organization: Vol. 14, No. 1 ( 1955), pp. 23-26, entitled "Participant Intervention in the Field"; and Vol. 17, No. 1 ( 1958), pp. 12-16, entitled "The Research and Development Approach to Change."

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