This article highlights the gendered impact of social change on subsistence matrilineal households and lends them voice as they inform the research process and speak for themselves about their perceptions of their material well-being. Well-being is a normative concept, concerned with values and assessments of body, mind, material endowments and subjective perceptions (White & Pettit, 2004). This article outlines a triangulation data collection strategy utilized to study this phenomenon among subsistence farmers in Zomba district, Malawi. Results show that villagers typically define well-off households as those having: good quality housing, food lasting the whole year, livestock, bicycle, a personable character and ability to purchase farming inputs (fertilizer and hybrid seed) and routine daily needs. Less well-off households are defined as having characteristics opposite those of the well-off households, including inadequate land, reliance on piece-work, and being the most negatively affected by rising commodity prices. The results demonstrate how a productive synergy was created between quantitative and qualitative methods in which key informant interviews, document analysis, participatory rapid appraisal; a household survey and focus group discussions were utilized. The review of the methodology further serves as a learning tool for students, teachers and practitioners of international development.
|Keywords:||Mixed Research Methods, Triangulation, Participatory Rapid Appraisal, Well-being, Land, Gender|
Assistant Professor, Sociology Department, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD, USA
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