Journal - January 2010 - Wilson
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IJP2 - Volume 4, Issue 1 - January 2010

Special Symposium Issue "Obama Administration and Public Participation"

Manavodaya: Facilitating Collective Reflection for Sustainable Development in Rural India

Patricia A. Wilson


 Abstract. Drawing on extensive field interviews, the author identifies the key elements in the group dialogue process used by Manavodaya, a nonprofit in northern India that trains development facilitators to empower women villagers for sustainable development through Self-Help Groups. The deeply reflective dialogue among members of a Self-Help Group moves through several phases: from polite conversation to resistance and debate; from fear of change to the recognition of possibility; from disempowering assumptions to a new perspective on one’s circumstances; and from unquestioning acceptance of existing institutions and cultural practices to a creative stance of collaborative action. Manavodaya’s process embraces the entire journey from dialogue to action. The collective reflection practice that Manavodaya has developed uniquely synthesizes three streams in the civic engagement literature: transformational dialogue, co-creativity and systems change; and international participatory development based on the tools and methods of action research. Yet Manavodaya’s practice of collective reflection derives directly from a social learning process honed from practice in the most challenging conditions of rural India.

Keywords: transformational dialogue, collective reflection, sustainable social development, facilitator, self-help groups, participatory development, action research, micro-credit, women villagers, rural India, individual and group consciousness, people’s institutions

Citation: Wilson, P. A. (2010). Manavodaya: Facilitating Collective Reflection for Sustainable Development in Rural India. International Journal of Public Participation, 4(1), 104-116.