Is it heuristics in use or 'ritualistic and instrumentalist' in purpose?


This research article by Dr. Avaniendra Chakravartty is published in The Open Public Health Journal, Volume 11, 2018

The primary task this article embarks upon is on determining whether the researches using KAPS (Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Surveys) has any heuristic purpose or is it just fulfilling some self-centered ritualistic and instrumentalist objective. While the focus of the research presented here is on Nepal but the arguments made here are applicable to other nations that have similar socio-economic conditions. Research is an outcome of one's philosophy which, in turn, is largely affected by the existing '-ism' or ideology. The prevailing -ism has been identified as neoliberalism.

Nepal is a least developed nation and its path towards development began since the 1950's. Research has been an integral practice in the path to development, so much so that Nepal has even been compared to a living laboratory. KAPS has been in use since the quest for development began and its use has increased manifold. The beginning of an international aid driven development approach and the need for monitoring also led to an increase in using KAPS and even today it is a popular method. The author is not questioning its validity and neither has any doubt about its reliability and use in various contexts. But, like any other methods or tools it too has limitations, and if used in certain contexts based on the existing reality of the researched sample, it tends to create findings akin to 'epistemic pollution'.

The research presented in two national conferences by an epistemic community has been selected for the study. The methodology followed is based on dialectical reflexivity and the approach adopted is auto-ethnographic. The dominance of procrustean, atomistic, dehistoricized, reductionist and individualist philosophy that deemphasizes structural relations is seen. The incorporation of neoliberal values has created a trend where research projects seem to solely serve ritualistic and instrumentalist purposes.

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Reference: Chakravartty A, (2018). Is it Heuristics in Use or 'Ritualistic and Instrumentalist' in Purpose? Neoliberal Philosophy and the Use of KAPS (Knowledge, Attitude and Practise Surveys) in a Least Developed Nation. , The Open Public Health Journal. DOI: 10.2174/1874944501811010243

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