Dependency Mapping

Objective: To know how class and castes of people depend on other classes, reasons for this dependency and results of this dependency.

Materials/Preparation: Idea cards, markers, stones.

Participants: A group or interviews of men and women separately in the poor and very poor well-being rankings.


Following introductions, facilitators introduce the exercise and use idea cards to create a matrix:

Very Poor




Very Poor

i.e. Rely on rich for wages, food in time of shortages.




i.e. Rely on poor and very poor to provide labor. i.e. Rely on poor and very poor to provide labor.


Building in the matrix, the research team facilitates a discussion on how each class depends on the other. Discussions should be held with poor women and poor men separately in order to gain both genders' perspectives on dependency.

To begin the discussion, the facilitator asks how the poor or very poor classes depend on the rich classes. One example to trigger the conversation may be: with whom do you (the poor and very poor) depend upon for financial support or loans?

In the discussion, the lead facilitator should also probe into underlying causes of dependency, in terms of economic, social and cultural factors.

Some questions that helped deepen discussions are:

  • What are the provisions of services and facilities provided instead of depending upon certain pieces of work?
  • Are these provisions fixed unilaterally or bilaterally? (If the very rich families are dependent on labor for the agricultural work, how consensus is reached between two parties for agricultural labor? What are the conditions for services and facilities? Who fixes the terms and conditions? Are the laborers free to take the wages either in cash or kind?)
  • Are provisions and conditions the same or different for men and women? How are they different and why?

This discussion also probes into how justifiable specific relationships of dependency are, and the dynamics of relationships between rich and poor.

However, the research team must be sensitive to the power dynamics underlying these conversations and the appropriateness of such topics for the exercise.


Key Ethical Principles

Based on the diagram below, participants map out key stakeholders in their lives around the center circle representing the key group in question. Again, group discussions should be facilitated in separate exercises for men and for women participants.


Source: CARE and IRCW, 2006.

For each stakeholder in the outer ring, participants consider how does that group influence their lives, as well as how the participant group influences the stakeholder group (i.e. mother, father, classmates, teachers, etc.).

  • Participants draw or write how they influence the stakeholder group at the outer circle on the arrows pointing outward from the center to the stakeholder group.
  • Likewise, participants draw or write how the stakeholder group influences themselves along the arrows pointing from the stakeholder group to the center.

Once completed, the facilitator discusses the diagram - or diagrams if this work is done with multiple small groups. - with participants. The Exploring Dimensions of Masculinities Guide used the following questions with its workshop exploring on masculinities with adolescent boys:

  • What kinds of power do you have over other people? How do you express it?
  • What kinds of power do other people have over you? How do other people express it?
  • What are the benefits of power for those who use it over others?
  • What are the costs of power for those who are subjected to it?
  • What can we do as men (or as women) to challenge and change others use of power over us?
  • What can we do as men (or as women) to change the way we use our power over others?

Related Tools




  • S Sharma (2009). Participatory Methods, Processes and Analyses: A handbook for identification of underlying causes of poverty and formulation of strategies. CARE Nepal.
  • B Bode (2007). Power Analysis in the Context of Rights-Based Programming. CARE Bangladesh. Module 3 of the Women’s Empowerment Strategic Impact Inquiry Methodological Compendium.
  • CARE and ICRW (2007). PLA Field Guide: Western Balkans Gender-Based Violence Initiative.