Breaking down research silo?

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I had the pleasure of attending UNU-WIDER's 'Responding to crises' conference last week. The theme was highly topical and session topics far-reaching, which makes the task of teasing out core ideas difficult. It may seem, as a result, that research on crises occurs in silos.

However, as a poverty researcher, I noticed that many of the key issues broached at the event are very similar to issues raised in debates in the poverty literature. I would suggest that when we start to look at the debates more closely, there are relationships between the so-called silos and ways exist to integrate them. We can see this demonstrated in three themes from the poverty literature which were seen at the conference: (1) multidimensionality; (2) stocks and flows; (3) causation.

Poverty is multidimensional

For a long time, it has been recognized that poverty is not simply about low purchasing power or preference fulfilment, proxied by income or consumption expenditure. Important statements to this effect have been made by Amartya Sen and Robert Chambers, among others. The absence of health, education, personal security, dignity, and so on, figure among the dimensions of deprivation. There is a growing body of literature on multidimensional poverty indices and analyses, including research work done at UNU-WIDER.

At this conference, multidimensionality was reflected in sessions which addressed the effects of crises on hunger, personal insecurity via conflict, vulnerability, education, health, water, and gender violence.

At this conference, multidimensionality was reflected in sessions which addressed the effects of crises on hunger, personal insecurity via conflict, vulnerability, education, health, water, and gender violence. All of the above may indeed be instrumentally valuable in bringing about other things deemed worthwhile, but they also are intrinsically valuable as constituents of well-/ill-being. This may be restating the obvious but I think it bears repeating.

Poverty status (stocks) and poverty dynamics (flows)

There is a distinction in the poverty literature between the analysis of poverty status, or the stock of poverty at one or more points in time, and the analysis of poverty dynamics, or the flows of individuals and households into and out of poverty over time. This distinction maps quite closely onto the distinction made in the opening plenary by Tony Addison and Rachel Gisselquist between the continuing crises of poverty, hunger and diseases of...

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