Tools: Preliminary Foundations

Norms and Structures



Community, Social and Resource Mapping

Explores a person's experiences of positive change and aspirations to understand his/her stories of change /achievement (agency), in addition to the structures and relationships that have supported or raise barriers in these transformative experiences.

Forms of Violence

Seeks to understand the forms of violence within a given context (structures, relations), affecting young men and women.

Gender Ideals

Uses brainstorming, illustration (or in some cases sculpture modeling) to discuss what defines an ideal man, woman, boy or girl (structures, relations, agency).

Monitoring Pathways

A tool which helps you to assess what to test and prioritize in the Theory of Change, in terms of pathways and hypotheses.

Norms and Values Evolution

Questions how norms/values (structures) within a community have changed: what men and women / boys and girls have achieved (agency), how relationships and support systems have shifted, and their affect on a group's choices and opportunities (structures).

Policy Analysis

Examines formal and nonformal policies and laws at multiple levels that shape the context in question.

Power Mapping

Looks at where power sits within a given area, based on structural factors, including natural resources, political resources (prominent leaders) as well as development resources.

Village Histories and Trends

Outline key events and condition’s (structures) facing communities across history that shaped its development and identity, probing what strategies people took during these times (agency).

Well-Being Analysis

Illustrates who are poor, middle and rich within a community, and patterns by which groups are generally excluded in regard to well-being status (structures). and what activities they can engage (agency).




Cobweb Matrix

Works with group to identify, understand and rank contributing factors driving an issue or problem (agency, structures, relations).

Focus Group Discussions

Group discussions can touch on a spectrum of issues related to agency, relations and structures. Note: depending on the topic of discussion, teams must consider risks and the importance of privacy and confidentiality.

Partner Relations Mapping

Works with program design teams to map stakeholder and partners pertinent for the program’s impact groups.

Peer Ethnographic Research - Evaluation

Works with peer evaluator researchers to engage in active dialogue with community members for in-depth understanding of needs, social behaviors and changes in relation to agency, structure and relations.

Ranking Setting Priorities

Gauges priorities to rank issues within a community. These problems may be explored in terms of how they affect what people can do (agency), their affect on relationships within the community), and structural issues that may drive these issues.

Reflective Practice

Engages a group to reflect critically on how a project is progressing, or another priority issue - across agency, structures and relations - to brainstorm steps to take that may be necessary to improve impact or catalyze positive change.

Surveys and Interviews

To discover quantitative information about people's opinions, beliefs and practices, and about service need or coverage of project access, so that the information may be analyzed statistically.

Actors and Relations



Dependency Mapping

Charts how different groups within a society depend on and influence one another (relations) based on diverse activities/skills (agency).

Do No Harm

Flexible framework to be used across the project cycle for understanding a) potential conflicts, b) sources of division, cohesion and peace within a community, and c) implications for programming.

Exploitation Analysis

Looks into the relational and structural dynamics between groups of economic / gendered / class power with those who face exploitation along these same terms.

Gender Equality Attitudes-Values Clarification

Gauges men’s (or women’s) attitudes about gender equality (agency). It can also then be used to understand the broader values and norms that drive attitudes (structures), as well as give a sense of the dynamics surrounding gender relations.

Local Government - Constructing a Power Net

Looks at the legacy of how governance has been managed and trends in power-sharing within a community (structures), to explore what relationships uphold key groups in decision-making positions within a community.

Promising Practices Inquiry

Examines strategies and interventions, their relationship with broader trends as well as changes around women’s empowerment (agency, structures and relations) to capture key lessons and promising approaches to supporting women’s empowerment.

Stakeholder and Institution Mapping

Maps what are the key institutions and who are key stakeholders in a given environment (structures), and what are their relationships with the groups at the heart of the study.