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Democracy and the evaluator’s role

In a world faced with unprecedented rising levels of inequality and injustice, is there a responsibility for evaluators to do more to promote inclusive, evaluative dialog and deliberation about the state of our democracies and our democratic principles and ideals?

What role and stance might or should evaluators take in relation to citizens’ growing concerns about the failure of key democratic ideals, such as participation, equity and social justice?

In the face of such overwhelming evidence of growing inequality and injustice, should evaluators be turning their attention to supporting a broader evaluative critique of the state of democratic ideals in our societies?

New Zealand is not alone among so-called democratic nation states in demonstrating a worsening picture of inequity and injustice. There seems little to celebrate about the lived reality of democracy in 2013 for so many of our global citizenry.

It seems to me that for those of us who consider evaluation to be a democratising practice – with the goal of social betterment – it is a critical time for evaluators to consider their location, role, and stance in relation to the pursuit of key democratic ideals.

I believe that collectively we can probably do more, than if we try and tackle this job alone. Perhaps we should demand of our evaluation organisations that they develop a collective body of critique on the state of our democratic principles and ideals? Our professional associations could perhaps fulfill an important leadership and facilitation role in processes of dialog and reasoned deliberation and interpretation of our countries’ commitment and results in relation to participation, equity and social justice. Is this just a naive idea with no possibility of realisation?