Social Scientist. v 11, no. 121 (June 1983) p. 61.

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The Village as a Unit of Investigation

AN UNDERSTANDING of the process of development or undet-development at the village level is needed for formulating a theory of policy for rural development. This raises the question of how village studies should be conducted with the aim of understanding the development process. The purpose of this note is to show how the task could be easier if both the village and development are simulta^ neously conceived in the study as a unit of investigation info the process of rural development. With this in view, tie note discusses the following: village studies and their weakness^, the concept of development, and the conception of the village as a unit of study in mral development.

The village studies conducted so far are either of the 'facto folding" type or are 'problem-oriented'.1 Thus they are either solaces of information and data or studies concerned with the analysis of gaps which exist between development programmes and their -ptrfot^ manoe at the grass-root level. Therefore, t^iey either point to the problems confronting the development of villages or present a partial yiievK about the state of underdo velopment which exists there. But they do not explain the process of development in villages as an integrated part of the spatio*social process of development operating in rural society as a whole,

The methodological debates among social scientists over the issue of how to conduct village^studies have resulted in their neglect of the fact that villages are an integral part of the rurat society which exists as a spatio-social aggregate. Social anthropologists charge economists with being carried away by theif model-building technocracy which makes it impossible for them to comprehend the life style of tillage society. According to the former what is needed most for comprehending the process of development or underdevelbpment is oteervation and introspection. That is why social anthropologists lay stress on the method of participant observation. On the other band fecooomists blame social anthropologists with using the method

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