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Global Development Institute

GDI students

PhD highlights

The latest views and news from our current and past PhDs.

First time in the field

Sally Cawood undertook nine months of field work in Dhaka, Bangladesh where she is researching collective action amongst slum dwellers living in urban poverty.

The trip was an opportunity for Sally to refine ideas for her thesis into something with more focus. While there, Sally was also able to attend a workshop on urbanisation and sustainable cities.

Sally said the trip to Bangladesh was invaluable for her research:

“I needed to see things for real and be there and explore the city and see the people I am researching, what their lives are like and what their challenges are. As a result I was able to learn things you would never read in text books.

“I learned that, yes, people have gas to cook with, for example, but that gas only comes on at 2am, so women living in these conditions will work all day, only to rise to cook at 2am.

“I met a group of workers sorting plastics bags. I knew that they worked in bad conditions and were paid a low wage but what I couldn’t learn from books was actually that they enjoyed the work and enjoyed working with the people they were working with.
“I also got a much better sense of how important social bonds are in Bangladesh, how much people are supported by their neighbours, their friends and how critical that support is for people living in poverty.

“Without the visit to Bangladesh I would not have been able to appreciate how much people organise and mobilise around the issues of their everyday life.”