Listening Methodology: Application of a Peacebuilding Research



“Listening” is a familiar word to describe a commonplace activity. In our usage, it describes a unique research methodology for peacebuilding. It is not traditional research, boosting epistemological resources or offering proofs to the scientific community. Nor is it a tool of psychological diagnosis or therapy. It is a research activity which is part of strategies for change, and which we apply to situations of conflict and violence. In such situations, crucial decisions are made by political, military, even economic actors, both local and distant. Rarely are local communities considered, and almost never consulted. The result of a Listening Project is that the authentic voices of local communities can be heard by political and military actors, strategists, donors, and non-governmental and international agencies. In conflict transformation and peacebuilding, even a small shift can be significant in making real the human plight, and in reconnecting the broken relationships or the disrupted communication between groups or communities in conflict.


The methodology originated from the US-based organization, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects (CDA). They used a listening methodology for evaluating international aid assistance around the world, to regularly check whether the good intentions of the international aid assistance did help, or caused unintended harm to community people who are the recipients of that humanitarian assistance. The original listening methodology of CDA was designed as a qualitative research process. This Listening Methodology Research for Peacebuilding aims to effectively bring to the foreground the real voice of community people to reflect on the policies that affect them. Though it uses a similar concept of conversation, 50% of the approach has been adapted to become a tool that is applicable within a very restricted situation, yet is sustainable, and offers sufficient entry points for dealing with tension and conflicts.


This document will outline the methodology, suggest steps and strategies in using it, and use concrete examples to illustrate how it is actually done. This methodology will be useful to practitioners in peacebuilding, conflict transformation, political mediation, and related fields. It will also be useful to policymakers and evaluators at government or agency level, as well as to local-level organizations or community leaders.




Qualitative / voices


Participation builds ownership and legitimacy


Agreements are more stable, appropriate and sustainable


Comprehensive and systematic exploration of ideas


Identification of key themes and common issues that influence policy


Listening Methodology is a qualitative research approach that seeks to capture the feelings, thoughts, and opinions of communities living in conflict, in order to collect a unified voice to share with decision-makers who can help those in need. This method can be used in a variety of contexts, such as:


Monitoring community opinions on the ceasefires in Myanmar


Identifying the challenges of Internally Displaced Person(s) post-Marawi Siege


Capturing the political desires of communities in Patani,



This method is not limited to communities, but may also include soldiers, armed group members, or any group of people the researcher is trying to study.


Source: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies