Topic 6 Elaboration of the relational sample

These maps can remind us of which actors we can count on with the greatest affinity for the process, and also which external and internal actors in the specific case have so much influence that we should know their strategies. We are interested in knowing what are the “positions” both for and against, and not only the power of convocation, but also the real, economic and political power, to do or to oppose to the process we are in.

One way to remember, to ask ourselves, about the factors that influence these processes is to frame the maps that we are making in two axes. On a vertical axis, for example, we can put on top the groups or institutions that have the greatest economic and political power (high social class power); in the middle, the sectors of permanent workers (medium power), and at the bottom, the most precarious sectors, with less real power.

On the horizontal axis, for example, you can put the degrees of affinity to the resolution of the conflict or affinity to the participatory project that we promote. There are groups, associations, institutions or unorganized sectors that we assume are more similar and others that are opposed. But on this axis it is also necessary to qualify the “positions”, since it is not the same to have “different” positions (they would like to do things differently, but they would be about to do something) than to situate themselves as “external” or “indifferent” (it gives them no matter what is done), or to have “opposite” positions (manoeuvre against) for the specific case in which we are.

How do we choose who we interview?

If our work is carried out in a certain area, it is interesting to obtain the opinions of key institutions and associations or bridges, within the map of existing relationships.

A useful tool to know “who is who” can be the following table, in which we can place institutions, associations and individuals according to their position regarding the subject of the process. This table may be easier to fill in with the help of the relationship map that we made earlier. It is important that we secure above all the positions of the unorganized sectors.

With this table we get about 12 possible positions in the intersecting quadrants, where we can place the “mapping” of actors and relationships. This serves us, first of all, as an “X-ray” of the problematic situation and the positions with which we presume that we must reckon. But this “X-ray” can also help us to select which groups it is essential to listen to in order to have a diagnosis with all the “important positions” involved. A “sample” is used to avoid having to listen to the entire population but to a part, so that with some workshops, personal or group interviews, we can have the necessary basic information.

The easiest way to contact is usually through the Monitoring Commission or the Motor Group, which usually have a list of associations and political leaders; in addition, it is normal for the people interviewed to provide contact with others (“snowball effect”).

The number of interviews, without being fixed or rigid, we can put it between 9 and 18, and they have to ensure that both the institutional positions and those of organized and unorganized groups are included. It is usually considered that from these numbers what is called the “saturation principle” is produced, that is, that the speeches and opinions contributed begin to be repeated. In any case, it is advisable not to consider the interview chapter closed, since throughout the process new positions may continue to appear that are of interest to collect.