The Theory of Change and Response: A New Agenda for Research on Population and Development in Africa
Abstract: The proposed seminar draws from a paper co-authored with Véronique Petit published in 2011 in Population and Development Review (Toward a Comprehensive Demography: Rethinking the Research Agenda on Change and Response) and from a recently published book edited by Véronique Petit, Population Studies and Development from Theory to Fieldwork (Springer 2017) which provides an updated version of the theory followed by twelve case studies in African and Pacific countries.
The theory of change and response (TCR) was first put forward by Kingsley Davis in a brief paper published in 1963 but it was solely focused on industrialized countries. We considerably enlarged Davis’ seminal contribution, by including concepts more adapted to the reality of developing countries such as structural inertia, crisis, etc. and by exploring epistemological issues such as the rationality of actors or the treatment of culture by demographers, etc. Further, we designed an interdisciplinary methodology, based on our field experience in Africa and nurtured by concepts, hypotheses and indicators borrowed from demography, anthropology, sociology and micro-economics of the household. The methodology was aimed at fulfilling three objectives: (a) complying with scientific standards; (b) being cost-effective; (c) answering the needs of policy makers. From this point of view the theory of change and response can be viewed as a new agenda for research.
As such the TCE has a remarkable flexibility and can be adapted to major issues of population and development. It allows in-depth analyses of behaviours on the individual and community levels in poverty stricken contexts, addressing issues such as reproductive health (Family planning, AIDS, FGMs), impact of the environment, education, child labour, land shortage. It also addresses the interactions of individual actors, families, and communities with a major actor, the State and its population policy, in the broader context of globalisation and thus helps understanding problems related to the implementation of population policies.
Last but not least, the TCR is most useful from a pedagogical point of view. We supervised several Ph.Ds directly using it. It has also been taught during seminars gathering staff of ministries in Africa, who needed a cost-effective methodology to address the problems encountered in the districts they were in charge of.
Bio: Trained in in sociology, economics and political sciences in Paris, Yves Charbit has a Doctorat d’Etat ès-Lettres of the Sorbonne and a Ph.D of Oxford University, both Summa cum laude. Now Professor emeritus of demography at the University Paris Descartes (2014-), he created in 2006 and headed a large research Unit, the Centre Population et Développement (40 permanent researchers, 54 Ph.D students), while chairing the Scientific Board of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences and being a member of the Council of Administration of the University.
He has published 23 books and 74 chapters of books or peer-reviewed articles (international migrations, family, nuptiality, reproductive health, theories and doctrines of population). He has been a guest speaker in several countries among which Algeria, Armenia, Benin, Cambodia, Canada, Congo, Djibouti, India, Ivory Coast, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Niger, Senegal, Tunisia, Turkey, UK, USA, Viêt-nam. He is one of the funding members of the Revue Européenne des Migrations Internationales and the chief editor of two series, Populations (L'Harmattan Paris) and Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development (Springer).
His expertise covers evaluation of national population policies, capacity building in the field of population and development, notably through the design and implementation of international interdisciplinary research and training programmes, for which he acted as a senior expert for UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, USAID, WHO, Coopération française, EU.