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Rio project a model for research


Taking a leaf from Rio's book when it comes to research

Knowledge exchange has always been central to LSE. The sharing of ideas and experiences in helping to understand the ‘causes of things’ is fundamental to our existence and LSE academics have a long standing tradition of working with multiple stakeholders

Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch from the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science is enthusiastic about the multiple stakeholder research model in the wake of a highly successful project in Rio de Janeiro.

The study, Underground Sociabilities, was supported by a research partnership between LSE, grass-roots organisations AfroReggae and CUFA, the charitable foundations of the Itaú Bank, Fundação Itaú Social and Instituto Itaú Cultural, and UNESCO-Brasilia Office.

Drawing on the expertise and resources of the public and private sectors, NGOs and UNESCO, as well as LSE academics, Professor Jovchelovitch’s team mapped routes of inclusion and exclusion in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The research found that psychosocial scaffoldings  – defined as actions and structures of support provided by individuals and institutions – are a central predictor of resilience to contextual and developmental adversity.  The report findings were officially launched in Rio and London in September and November 2012.

The complexity and challenges of working across so many platforms should not be underestimated, Professor Jovchelovitch says, but the results speak volumes.

“We needed the input of so many stakeholders for a research project like this because the resources, expertise and connections could not be sourced from any one partner alone.

“LSE provided world-class intellectual knowledge; the foundations of Itaú Bank funded the research but also provided valuable input through their research and programmatic departments; grassroots organisations AfroReggae and CUFA enabled access to the terrain and made field work possible; and  UNESCO shared its reach and knowledge of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole.

“Discussions between all partners and between partners and key interlocutors in Rio de Janeiro allowed constant reflection and fine-tuning.

“For complex research situations such as the one we encountered in Rio de Janeiro – working in unfamiliar, potentially dangerous territory and in a different cultural context – partnerships are one of the most productive ways to go,” Professor Jovchelovitch says.

Whether or not this partnership model of research becomes the norm rather than the exception remains to be seen, however.

Multiple stakeholder research projects are difficult logistically; they are also expensive and require co-operation across differences in institutional aims, cultures and calendars.

Professor  Jovchelovitch says for these partnerships to work, it is critical that all partners try to understand the perspective of others and are open to negotiate their position.

“For academics autonomy and independence is essential. Both cultural and institutional differences need to be worked through and priorities of each stakeholder negotiated and taken into account.

“There are always tensions between partners and the challenges are huge, but ultimately very rewarding,” she says.

Useful links

Underground Sociabilities: identity, culture and resistance in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas is authored by Professor Sandra Jovchelovitch and Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez

Posted July 2013