It is difficult to capture changes in state-society relations using traditional monitoring and evaluation tools and methods. The research agenda here is about finding or developing methods that can robustly capture both the tangible shifts (e.g. more learning time for children in class) and the institutional and behavioural changes. The idea is to then use political-economy analysis to explore and explain these outcomes in terms of the context in which they are occurring. These propositions are based on three lessons on theories of change for social-accountability programmes and projects:
- Taking account of contextual dynamics is vital
- Using monitoring as an opportunity for to learn rather than a tick-box exercise. Looking in the ‘rear-view mirror’ often shows much more of what is working than trying to look ahead and make predictions.
- Collective-action situations are complex and dynamic and therefore require equally dynamic monitoring and evaluation approaches. It is more important to keep monitoring assumptions than to develop a neat narrative.