Reflecting on ‘evidence’ and documentation devices in ‘translating’ community interventions
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McGrath, Brian (2015). Reflecting on ‘evidence’ and documentation devices in ‘translating’ community interventions. Community Development Journal 51 (2), 179-194
The pursuit of 'evidence' within the community sector has intensified the array of documents, forms, and other artefacts and devices (e.g. computer software systems) to be read, written, completed, inputted, and reflected upon by community practitioners. This article offers a conceptual interpretation that treats materials of evidence as active agents ('actants') in translating and assembling the pursuit of 'development' on particular terms and towards certain interests. Of particular interest here is how `evidence' comes to be deployed and active in the construction of development action. Approaching policy and community interventions from the perspective of `sociology of translations'/'actor networks', the article offers a conceptualization on the role of `evidence' in the translation work that constitute and organize community programmes, especially in stabilizing central-local relations and allowing the 'centre' to effectively manage `from a distance'. For illustrative purposes, the article provides examples of the kinds of circulating documents and translation processes relating to one major government-sponsored local community 'partnership' programme in Ireland, the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP).