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Development research

Convergent or divergent approaches and understandings of poverty? An introduction

John R. Campbell and Jeremy Holland

Is it possible or indeed desirable to combine qualitative, participatory and quantitative research methods and approaches to better understand poverty? This special section of Focaal seeks to explore a number of contentious, inter-related issues that arise from multimethod research that is driven by growing international policy concerns to reduce global poverty. We seek to initiate an interdisciplinary dialog about the limits of methodological integration by examining existing research practice to better understand the strengths and limitations of combining methods which derive from different epistemological premises. We ask how methods might be combined to better address issues of causality, and whether the concept of triangulation offers a possible way forward. In examining existing research we find little in the way of shared understanding about poverty and, due to the dominance of econometrics and its insistence on using household surveys, very little middle ground where other disciplines might collaborate to rethink key conceptual and methodological issues.

Open access

Narva as Method

Urban Inventories and the Mutation of the Postsocialist City

Francisco Martínez


This article asks how a post-Soviet city went global and became something else, mutating, in the sense of generating a new set of features that go beyond a narrow understanding of postsocialism. The research provides a synthetic conceptualisation of Narva and the organisation of its ordinary life, by combining methods of urban observation and classification with geographical and ethnographic descriptions of this city. Using visual imagery of urban objects, along with field annotations and interview quotes as the materials analysed, the article carries out a Narvaology that consists in deploying this city ‘as method’. It points out that cities such as Narva require a more relational and multi-scalar language, one with broader theoretical and methodological implications, able to account for fragmentary socio-political issues.