Aug 1, 1996
Environment and Planning A
In this paper I argue that urban-policy evaluation makes little or no difference to the lives of the communities which are the recipients or targets of urban-policy projects. In particular, I will show how processes of policy evaluation are alienating both for communities and for researchers alike. This is related, in part, to the socioinstitutional contexts within which evaluation takes place but, as importantly, to the utilisation of evaluative (broadly positivist) models which conceive of the process as socially and politically neutral. Such approaches, as I show, are poorly sensitised to the evaluative contexts. It is suggested that a more fruitful, although not necessarily unproblematical, way to produce sensitised, and relevant, evaluative methods is to change what Oliver terms “the social relations of research production”. This involves the development of what some social scientists are terming an emancipatory research paradigm. In the paper such issues and their implications for urban-policy evaluation are explored.