Research is structured around six main themes and often involves collaboration in interdisciplinary teams with researchers in other units within and outside The University.
Current Research Interests
- Financial Services for the Poor
- Gender Issues in Development Practice
- Governance and Management of Natural Resources
- Information, Knowledge and Communication
- Life-Course Analysis and Livelihoods
- Livelihood Diversification
- Financial Services for the Poor
Research on the informal financial sector has included a study of village level money lenders in India, and the linkages between the formal and informal financial sectors in Ghana. Recent research on the formal financial sector, in collaboration with the School of Psychology, has focussed on identification of attitudinal constraints within the rural banking system in India towards providing financial services to the rural poor, and the role of new training interventions in addressing these attitudinal constraints.
Gender Issues in Development Practice
Reading has a long tradition of teaching and research in gender issues in international and rural development. Research focuses on differentiation within and between genders in access to support services and livelihood opportunities in rural areas. Methodological approaches include social network analysis, household surveys and qualitative enquiry.
Governance and Management of Natural Resources
Sustainable use and management of natural resources requires interdisciplinary insights from both social and natural science. Agricultural and social scientists are working together to improve understanding of how and why users of natural resources make their management decisions, in a wide range of contexts. This understanding is being applied to the design of future research and development interventions, in situations ranging from smallholder irrigated farming in South Africa to community managed forests in Nepal and integrated crop management in Bangladesh.
Information, Knowledge and Communication
Research in this area uses a range of quantitative, qualitative and participatory approaches to explore people's access to and use of information. Current research includes: institutional arrangements for providing advisory support to land managers and other users of natural resources; the effective use of information and communication technologies in support of urban and rural livelihoods; the analysis and management of knowledge and information systems; and scaling up the impact of research through the policy process.
Life-Course Analysis and Livelihoods
In recent years, life-course analysis has emerged as a critical area of social research of interest to academics, policy makers and practitioners. Research in the Department currently focuses on how age, as a basic principle of social organisation, shapes livelihood opportunities and development outcomes. Currently overseas research includes a study of rural youth livelihoods in East Africa.
The IRDD has a substantial interest in livelihoods and livelihood diversification. Rural livelihoods are often more complex than those depicted in official reports. For example, a study of rural livelihood diversification in India shows an ever expanding range of non-farm livelihood activities, and ever increasing migration from the study village. Particular attention has focused on identifying those factors which facilitate routes out of poverty and those factors which constrain such options.