Exploring Performance Ethnography to illuminate mobile banking Capabilities in Western Kenya: Capability Approach Study




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De Montfort University


Thesis or dissertation

Peer reviewed


This study is a qualitative examination on the impact of mobile banking, commonly known as MPESA on the lived experiences of the marginalised poor of Bukhalalire sub-location in western Kenya. Using Capability Approach as the guiding theoretical framework, this research project answers Denzin’s (2003) call to performance, a performance which contributes to a more “enlightened and involved citizenship”. It is “revolutionary” in that it “enlightens citizens to the possibilities” of MPESA by staging dramatic texts or performances rewritten from the interviews with the poor. These Performances make sites of oppression visible in the process, affirming an oppositional ‘politics’ that reasserts the value of self-determination and mutual solidarity. Here, the project explores Performance Ethnography to interrogate and evaluate specific, social, educational, economic and political processes as mechanisms that affect the adoption and successful implementation of MPESA as a poverty eradication strategy. The research work conducts focus groups to draw out dimensions of concerns which this research construes as a capability set, then interviews persons in poverty to establish, firstly, what the dimensions of concerns are and the relationship between them, effectively corroborating the findings from the focus group then secondly establish how MPESA is impacting on those dimensions of concern. The research then uses performances to bring to the front the voices of the poor, making visible sites of oppression in one sense and on another, sites of opportunities within MPESA. This exercise answers the research question in evidencing how Performance Ethnography illuminates dimensions of concerns within a Capability Approach study and as research tool it provokes the interviewer and the interviewee to self examination and reflection, seen thus, the performance becomes vehicle for moving persons, subjects, performer, and audience members in new, critical, ‘political’ spaces, a space of hope that transcends the conservative politics of neoliberalism rescuing the radical democracy. As such, it “tells a true and previously untold tale” effectively calling for social transformation.



Performance Ethnography



Research Institute