The Social Conditioning of PROGRAM EVALUATION: A CASE STUDY IN THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF EVALUATION KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTS

Kerry M. Drach (1986)

The evaluation research literature devotes little systematic attention to the analysis of the social contextual factors that surround and influence program evaluation. In the present case study a constructivist framework for the social conditioning of scientific knowledge derived from ethnographic studies of laboratory science is applied to program evaluation data in order to develop a conceptual framework that articulates in what respect and to what extent social contextual factors may be understood as structuring and shaping evaluation research inquiry. Qualitative research methods are employed in a rigorous analysis of fieldnotes gathered during the formal evaluation of a community based child sexual abuse treatment program. The study specifically examines the social conditioning of decisions made about research objectives for the evaluation project. The fruit of the study is a preliminary constructivist framework applicable to the social conditioning of evaluation knowledge products. This framework is fleshed out using categories derived empirically through analysis of the evaluation experience as documented in the field data.