Using the models to question the real world situation


As already explained, the activity models are the devices or tools which enable that discussion is a structured rather than a random one. The models are sources of “good” questions to ask about the real situation, enabling it to be explored richly. For example: here is an activity in this model, does it exist in the real situation? Who does it? How? When? Who else could do it? The questions resulting from the comparison between the activity model(s) and the real world could be addressed in a focus group or even an individual face-to-face interview. An informal approach is to have a discussion about improving the situation in the presence of the models. If some relevant models are on flip charts on the wall, they can be referred to and brought into the discussion at appropriate moments. We could ask whether we would like activity in the situation to be more, or less, like that in the model. Such questioning organizes and structures a discussion/debate about the real world situation. The purpose of the discussion is to surface different worldviews and to seek possible ways of changing the problematical situation for the better.

Note that the models are not meant to be accounts of what we would wish the real world to be like. It is dangerous to talk about the comparison between the real situation and the models, because it can be taken to imply that the discussion focusses on deficiencies in the situation when set against the ‘perfect’ models. The models only reflect pure worldviews, which in real situations co-occur within the group or even within one person.

An activity model and the questions being raised out of the comparison between the model and the real situation, can be summarized in a matrix (type excel table) (see Table X). The model provides the left-and column, consisting of activities and connections from the model, while the other axis contains questions to ask about those elements. The task is then to fill in the matrix by answering the questions.

Table X: Example of a matrix template



Who does it?