Oxus International specializes in conducting participatory activities, such as conflict mapping, in which a small group of selected participants collaborate on creating a visual map of events, causes and effects related to the conflict or topic that is being researched. It is a useful qualitative exercise, not only for the final visual guide that results, but also to observe how the participants come to agree on which elements to include on the map. This strategy has been successfully implemented in many of Oxus International’s past social research projects.
Conflict Mapping: Participants are asked to create a map of a specific conflict. After discussing causes and effects, as well as other, potentially unrelated or superfluous events, the mapping leader assembles each separate occurrence on a piece of paper and places it on a large, empty space. Participants discuss how the events are related to each other by instructing the mapping leader to draw arrows between the pieces of paper. While the end result may not accurately reflect the facts of the conflict, the exercise is significant for the process the participants engage in to come to their final conclusion, as well as demonstrating their perspective of the conflict.
Community Mapping: Much like conflict mapping, participants are asked to create a visual map of their community, emphasizing the process of creating the map over the final results. This exercise is designed to enable the participants to analyze the ways in which their own community functions, as well as allowing the researchers present to observe the participants’ communication dynamics and capabilities.
Venn Diagrams: This exercise is used to analyse informal power structures, and help researchers to understand the roles that different institutions, groups or individuals play in a community. For this activity, community members are asked to describe the institutions that exist in their community, describe their function, how important they are in relation to other institutions, and how central or peripheral they are to the community’s life. The activity centres on the construction of a paper Venn diagram, but the discussion and debate that accompanies the analysis is as important as the final visual output.
Stakeholder identification: Unlike the other activities, this one is conducted with the client in a workshop setting. The purpose is for the participants to discover the project’s stakeholders; that is, of their interests and the ways in which those interests affect a project’s viability. Stakeholders are persons or groups who are affected by or can affect the outcome of a project; they may be individuals, interest groups, government agencies, or corporate organizations. The identified stakeholders are divided into four groups; low interest-low power, low interest-high power, high interest-low power, and high interest-high power. By dividing the stakeholders, it helps the client better prioritize who future actions and policies should target.