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With the strength of the powerless: using immersions for processes of structural change (PLA 57)

Karl Osner

Journal article

The articles in the third and final section of PLA 57 looks at some of the ways in which immersions are starting to influence policy and institutional direction. Emphasising Möller’s article (this issue), Karl Osner – who pioneered Exposure and Dialogue Programmes (EDPs) in the early 1980s – provides a meaningful insight on the role that immersions have played in the pro-poor reform of the German Aid system.

In the final article in this section, Osner explores whether immersions can contribute to the practical shaping of a New Aid Agenda in a meaningful way, one which is based on a culture of dialogue between decision makers and the poor, between state and society, and between recipient countries and donors. This is a concrete example of how immersion can contribute to processes of structural change or 'reform from within' as Osner defines it. Nonetheless, it is highlighted that immersions alone cannot produce such change. Sustained effort, a multitude of cooperating actors, technical competence, and strong government backing are also required. Osner concludes by delineating possible ways forward for immersions to contribute to the shaping of a New Aid Agenda.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board.

Guest editors: Izzy Birch, Raffaella Catani with Robert Chambers.

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