Large Group Capacitation
For «biological process related to reproduction», see: Capacitation.
Large Group Capacitation is an adult education and social psychology concept associated with the Brazilian sociologist Clodomir Santos de Morais, and grounded in the activity of the individual and the social psychology of the large group. When applied to the context of the Organization Workshop (OW), which, historically, has been used mainly for the purpose of job creation and income generation, it is known as Metodología da Capacitação Massiva (MCM) in Portuguese, Método de Capacitación Masiva (MCM) in Spanish and as Large Group Capacitation Method (LGCM) in English.
The English term capacitation is a translation of the latino terms capacitação (Portuguese)/capacitación (Spanish).Capacitation marks the generic difference between transitive and intransitive modes of learning and communicating implicit in de Morais' aphorism se aprende, porém não se capacita (Portuguese) : "[The trainee] learns, but is not capacitated". Capacitation, - from capacitação (Portuguese) -, here, is reminiscent of the adult education concept of conscientization - from conscientização (Portuguese) -, popularized by Brazilian theorist, activist and a lifelong friend of Clodomir's, Paulo Freire. While Freire's work was translated into English as early as 1970, de Morais’ Organization Workshop (OW) - and, hence, moraisean Large Group Capacitation (LGC) - did not come to the attention of the English-speaking public until the mid-eighties, when the Chilean Social Psychologists I. & I. Labra moved to Zimbabwe and transferred the method to the (southern) African context. Latino texts were initially translated on an 'ad hoc' basis, including the 'dictionary' translation of capacitación (Spanish) as training (English). Cherrett’s 1992 first ever translation into English of de Morais' Apuntes de Teoría de la Organización, also, was still referred to as a "Training" Manual. It was not until the ALFA International Conference in Manchester, UK, in 1998, attended by de Morais and academics from four European and four Latin American Universities, that a consensus was reached on the dedicated terms Capacitation and Large Group Capacitation (LGC).
'Capacitation' in Community Health, Adult Education and International Development
Capacitation (outside the field of biology) has been used previously, in English, mainly to emphasize educational content which differs from and/or transcends the basic meaning of the English one-size-fits-all training. In some sectors of Community health, "capacitation" is said to be synonymous with empowering training. Capacitation has also historically been used in the area of adult education, starting with Paulo Freire, who, in the seventies, uses the term "Technical Proficiency Capacitation" to refer to a (n adult) learning activity which can "never be reduced to the level of mere training". In the eighties, Capacitation is defined, by the ILO, as: "availability of opportunities for people to build up their capacities to move from the status of object and passive victims of social processes to the status of subjects guided by self-consciousness and active agents of change". The UNRISD (Geneva) had started (in the seventies) to promote the term capacitation as a "problem-solving, educational" alternative to the then prevalent but mainly pragmatic ‘social amelioration’ approaches to International development. Jan Nederveen Pieterse  contrasts "capacitation"/human development, as proposed by alternative or autonomous (aka self-development) theorists - (such as e.g. Korten, 1990; Max-Neef, 1991; Rahman, 1993 and Carmen, 1996), - with "development-as -economic growth" theorists’ for whom, according to Pieterse, capital accumulation is the ultimate Development objective. By the mid-nineties, any mention of capacitation had virtually disappeared from the International Development scene, to be replaced by the World Bank-sponsored Capacity Building discourse. Although de Morais worked for many years with a range of UN and International Agencies, his "Activity"-based  pedagogy never became common currency there, possibly, as Sobrado suggests, because of, among others, its then presumed “Evil Empire” pedigree.
Moraisean Large Group Capacitation (LGC): Overview
The major theoretical influence, acknowledged by de Morais, in the development of the LGC concept and method, is the work of Aleksei N. Leontiev  specifically his concept of Objective(ized) Activity  which means that, in order to change the mind-set of individuals, we need to start with changes to their activity – and/or to the object that “suggests” their activity. Objective(ized) Activity is at the core of what Labra has referred to as “another” tradition  of Social Psychology, namely the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)-based branch of Social Psychology, which sets it apart from mainstream (behaviorist/lewinian  Social Psychology of small groups. The 'locus'  of activity-based LGC is the Organization Workshop(OW), a learning event where participants, applying social division of labor principles,  master new organizational knowledge and skills through a learning-by-doing approach. In OW-learning, the trainer's role is merely subsidiary (known as "scaffolding" in Activity Theory). In other words, it is not the trainer/instructor who teaches, but "the object that teaches". Moraisean capacitation, then..."involves several elements: mastery of a practical experience, perhaps with some theoretical guidance but at least with some theoretical insight; an element in which the object itself guides or influences the subject's understanding in the course of the activity; a process of critical reflection on action and on motives of action. Crucially, it always involves working with the whole and not a small part of the system". 
History of Application
The insights that gave rise to what came to be known as the moraisean Large Group Capacitation Method (LGCM) were an unanticipated consequence of a 30-day course, in 1954, for a large group  of the Northeast Region, Brazil Peasant Leagues' middle-level leadership to study Brazilian Agrarian reform law. The group met under clandestine conditions at a family home normally accommodating 7 people, in a heavily policed part of Recife (Brazil). Through the early 1960s de Morais staged workshops of an experimental character throughout the northeast of Brazil. After he was forced into exile following the 1964 coup d'état, he worked as ILO Agrarian Reform Regional Advisor for Central America, and later under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), he was able to launch a multitude of 'Experimental Laboratories' (later called Organization Workshops in the Southern Africa version of the method). From 1973 he applied the emerging method to peasants’ capacitation within the Agrarian reform Program of Honduras: over three years more than 200 workshops took place, with participation of more than 24000 peasants  and government officers from around the region. Over the years de Morais worked as consultant and/or director with the UNDP, FAO, and Catholic Relief Services. Elsewhere the OW has been sponsored by Hivos, Norwegian People's Aid, terre des hommes, Concern Worldwide, Redd Barna and, recently e.g. in South Africa, the Seriti Institute, Soul City Institute and government departments such as South Africa's Department of Social Development. The OW, in a variety of local, regional and national applications, and in different formats, has spread, over the years, to Costa Rica, Mexico, Panamá, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, the Caribbean, a number of African countries as well as Europe.
- Activity theory
- Clodomir Santos de Morais
- Cultural-historical psychology
- Aleksei N. Leontiev
- Experiential learning
- Situated learning
- Organization Workshop
- Professional Development
- Lev Vygotsky
- Zone of Proximal Development
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- Correia, Jainta JB (1994). Comunicação e Capacitação – Communication and Capacitation (in Portuguese). Brasilia, Br: IATTERMUND.
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- Labra, Isabel; Labra, Ivan (2012). The Organization Workshop Method. Seriti, S.A.: Integra Terra Network Editor.
- Labra, Iván (2014). A Critique of the Social Psychology of Small Groups & an Introduction to a Social Psychology of the Large Group. IntegraTerra - Chile: (pre-booklaunch) Intro & Chapter I.
- Leontiev, Aleksei N (1978). Activity, Consciousness, and Personality. Prentice-Hall – Translated by Marie J. Hall. ISBN 0-13-003533-5.
- Morais, Clodomir, Santos de (1979). Apuntes de teoría de la organización – Notes on theory of Organization (in Spanish). Managua, Nicaragua: PNUD, OIT-NIC/79/010, COPERA Project.
- Morais, Clodomir, Santos de (1997). Elementos de teoria da Organização - Notes on Theory of Organization (in Portuguese). IATTERMUND - PRONAGER-AMAZÔNIA.
- Morais, Clodomir, Santos de (1987). Objective conditions and subjective factors. PhD Thesis (in Spanish). Rostock GDR.
- Nacif, Vera (1998). The National Job and Income Development Program in Poverty-Stricken Areas - its Potential - PRONAGER. Brasilia: Government Brazil Dpt of Culture. pp. 29–35.
- Orsatti, Alvaro (2010). CSA (Workers’ Federation of the Americas) São Paulo. Brasil, ed. El principio metodológico de la Capacitación Masiva para Trabajadores autónomos – The methodological principle of Large Group Capacitation for autonomous Workers.
- Pieterse, Jan, N. (1998). ’’My Paradigm or Yours? Alternative Development, Post-Development, Reflexive Development’’. Development and Change, Vol 28, No 2.
- Ramafoko, Lebo; Andersson, Gavin; Weiner, Renay (2012). Reality Television for Community Development. The Kwanda Initiative in South Africa. South Africa: Nordicom Review 33 Special Issue pp. 149-162.
- Silveira, Caio, M. et al. (1997). Metodologias de Capacitação - Cefe, Gespar, Capacitação Massiva – Methods of Capacitation – Cefe, Gespar, Large Group Capacitation Method. Rio de Janeiro: FASE.
- Sobrado Chavez, Miguel (1993/2006). FLACSO/Online:ILIDES Foundation, ed. Capacitación y discapacitación en los proyectos de desarrollo – Capacitation and discapacitation in development projects (in Spanish). Costa Rica. Check date values in:
- Sobrado, Miguel; Rojas, Juan José Herrera (2006). EUNA, ed. America Latina: crisis del Estado clientelista y la construcción de repúblicas ciudadanas – Latin America: crisis of the clientelist state and building the citizen republics (in Spanish). Costa Rica. ISBN 9977-65-281-3.
- Sobrado, Miguel (2012). La metodología de capacitación masiva y el desarrollo local y regional – Large Group Capacitation in local and regional development (in Spanish). Costa Rica: UNIVERSIDAD EN DIÁLOGO Vol. II, N.° 1. ISSN 2215-2849.
- Souza, Abel Sydney de (2006). A Metodologia da Capacitação Massiva: uma alternative á Geração de emprego e renda – Large Group Capacitation: an alternative approach to Job creation and Income Generation (in Portuguese). Portugal - http://www.ulusofona.pt/en/: Revista Espaço Acadêmico Nr 57 - ULHT Lusofone University of Humanities and Technology. ISSN 1519-6186.
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Notes and References
- Meaning, among others, a real activity (vs. mere simulation exercise); an experiential learning activity; a Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (CHAT)-based activity.
- Andersson 2013, p. 5 ss on de Morais' use of Activity Theory.
- de Morais Chapter 3 in Carmen & Sobrado 2000
- Labra, Iván, 1992, 3.2. p.82: "psicología social de grandes grupos"(Spanish); Carmen & Sobrado 2000 Chapter 2; Labra 2014: Social Psychology of the Large Group.
- Large Group Capacitation Method. "(LGCM)"..
- but more recently, especially in South Africa and Costa Rica, for broader-based Social and Community Development initiatives.
- Sobrado & Rojas 2006, p. 125 (online): "Annex: A methodological path". Also (book): Sobrado & Rojas, 2006 ISBN 9977-65-281-3 p.185ss EUNA, Costa Rica, and Orsatti 2010; Sobrado 2012.
- latino, as the method originated in Latin America see: Organization Workshop.
- The Spanish section of the tri-lingual UNESCO 1979 "Adult Education Glossary" explains that the term capacitación (Spanish) is usually followed by the adjectives vocational or technical, ie preparation for qualified employment - re: “trabajo calificado" (Spanish) (p.79).
- NB: the English verb to capacitate means to make capable; to enable - from capax (Latin) = capable. (As for «biological process related to reproduction», see: Capacitation).
- That is, subject-to-subject transmission of knowledge, skills and communication(s). Banking education (Freire) "in which the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat" would be an example of such subject-to-subject transitive mode, in the field of education.
- That is, non-transitive, object-to-subject 'objective activity', i.e. where the object teaches or how adults learn, ie autonomously - see: Andragogy and Sobrado 2012, p. 50 "Andragogy forms the basis of the process".
- eg Correia 2007, p. 7–8
- The "Concise Oxford Dictionary" 2004, OUP ISBN 978-0-19-8609773 p.110 translates capacitación (Spanish) as training (English). - Conversely, the Spanish translation of "training"(English) is not capacitación (Spanish), but, instead, entrenamiento(Spanish)/ adiestriamiento(Spanish). Alternatively: entrenamento(Portuguese)/adestramento(Portuguese).
- Morais in:Souza 2006 p. 6 (nb. Portuguese original): "Professional training [models] generally transfer elements of theory well before practical elements are produced. The latter aborts the capacitation process: the trainee learns, but is not capacitated: se aprende, porém não se capacita (Portuguese).
- Morais 1987, p. 136 (nb.Spanish original) "To prioritize elements of theory before introducing elements of practice, means that the capacitation process of those involved in the setting the “Organization Workshop Enterprise” is being frustrated: they learn but are not capacitated: se aprende, pero no se capacita(Spanish).
- Andersson 2004, p. 166–170: "Capacitation".
- Carmen Sobrado p.39: "A final moment with Paulo Freire - 1997".
- Freire 1970. See also: Pedagogy of the Oppressed
- Carmen Sobrado, p. 115 Ch 12: "Hard Learning in Zimbabwe".
- 'Training' also happened to coincide with potential sponsors' Development glossaries, eg the ILO's 1980s Persons with Lower Levels of Literacy (LLLs) training modules.
- 'Dictionary' translations of capacitação (Portuguese)/capacitación (Spanish) (translated as "training") occasionally can be found in official documents, as, eg, in Nacif 1998, which is a Government translation of Vera Nacif's original Spanish text.
- transl: "Notes on a Theory of Organization" (ETC, Newcastle, UK)
- ALFA - America Latina Formación Academica
- Manchester UK, Wageningen, Netherlands, Basque University Spain, Pisa Italy, Chapingo Mexico, Central University Venezuela, National University and Public University of Costa Rica. (see: Carmen, Labra & Davis 1999)
- Carmen, Labra & Davis 1999 p. 10
- Etymology of Training quote : "from the 14th Century Old French trahiner - to drag". (NB: which would be a clear indication of its transitive pedigree of the English term).
- Freire 1973, p. 160.
- Tilakaratna 1987 p. 23: "Capacitation".
- Wolfe 1996 page 39: "Capacitation of national societies". (NB: La capacitation (French) is a synonym for la prise en charge(French)/taking charge(English) - in this case, of one’s own destiny).
- See comparative table - (between "Growth-led" and "Equity-led" Development - p.354 in Pieterse 1998.
- Eade 1997, p. 2:"No summit goes by without ritual calls for capacity building programmes"
- Andersson 2004 p 168-9 quote: "Much of southern development practitioners' capacity enhancing practice is in the transitive vein of providing training courses for on one or another identified "capacity need".
- International Agencies, prominently the World Bank, as from the nineties, opted for "Capacity Building", influenced, partly, as Andersson 2004, p. 168 suggests, by Amartya Sen’s then up-and-coming "Capability approach" to International Development.
- (Capacty) "Building": "To build" means “to form by combining materials or parts”. According to Andersson 2004, p. 168. "Capacitation”, - on the other hand -, ”always involves working with the whole - (i.e. the entire process/activity at the same time) - and not with (a) small part(s) of the system”.
- re, eg, Labra & Labra 2012; Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 118 (n.2); see also: "Moraisean Large Group Capacitation (LGC): Overview" section of this article, below
- re: Sobrado in Carmen Sobrado, p. 21
- NB: A recent (2011) english language Critical Community Psychology textbook does present moraisean Capacitation as one of four possible "strategies of action":(Kagan et al 2011, p. 195–197).
- de Morais 1987 p. 19-23
- Leontiev 1978. re also Andersson 2004, p. 219, who sees Alexei Nikolaevich (and his son A.A.) Leontiev as belonging to the wider Russian School Cultural-historical psychology tradition, pioneered by Lev Vygotsky and taken forward in recent years by ('3rd generation') Finnish Activity theorist Yrjö Engeström - see: 2004 Andersson, p. 214 and Andersson 2013 p. 8, note 17.(Other 'Activity' theorists: Michael Cole, Jean Lave, James Wertsch, et al).
- Leontiev 1978, p. 50 ss; Labra 1992, p. 53(Actividad Objetivada (Spanish); Labra & Labra 2012; Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 118 & note #2.; Andersson 2013, p. 6ss
- Objectivized Activity or Actividad Objetivada (Spanish) and Atividade Objetivada(Portuguese), from the original Предметная деятельность(Russian) (predmetnaja-dejatelnost), or Gegenständliche Tätigkeit(German), also known as Objective Activity, is explained in Chapter three of Leontiev 1978, p. 50 ss. It implies the recognition that, in order to change the mind-set of individuals, we need to start with changes to their activity – and/or to the object that “suggests” their activity. In the Organization Workshop context, the real enterprise the participants are engaged in is that “object that teaches”. From a pedagogical perspective the choice of “object” is crucial. To ensure that a social scale of activity was engendered, de Morais made the requirement that a common resource pool be put at the disposal of participants, which requires that production processes be regulated (co-ordinated), independently from the whims of various collaborators. Andersson 2013 p. 6. ; Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 63.
- Labra 2014, p. 3
- Cultural-historical psychology, in Andersson's words, "explains de Morais' method" re: Andersson 2004, p. 214; Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 129
- Andersson 2004, p. 213: Lewinian Social Psychology (eg Group Dynamics); Labra 2014, p. 10.
- Carmen Sobrado, p. 165–166: 'small group' social psychology; Andersson 2012; Labra 2014 p. 14 & 18: Social Psychology of Small Groups.
- The word locus (plural loci) is Latin for "place".
- defined by de Morais as "a practical exercise in the creation of a real enterprise" Morais 1979.
- Sobrado 2012 p. 49.; Carmen & Sobrado 2000 Chap. 2.
- Andersson 2013, p.24 quoting Vygotsky n.59 and Andersson 2004 p.227-234: Zone of proximal development (ZPD) or the gap between what an individual learner, or group of learners, has already mastered without assistance (the actual level of development), and what they potentially can achieve with the guidance of an experienced assistant or peer”.
- Sobrado in Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 209: the traditional relationship between trainee and instructor ceases to apply.
- The fact that it is the "OW Object" itself that "teaches" does not preclude or exclude the provision of professional training (in the trades, enterprises, services that the participants have chosen to engage in). How 'capacitation' and 'training' go hand in hand is clear, for example, from the diary of a Resource person (i.e.trainer) at the 1994 Munguine OW in Mozambique.
- see (Morais 1979): The OW is "a practical exercise in the creation of a real enterprise".
- see the theoretical notions of eg "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD) and "Scaffolding" above.
- see: Objectivized Activity in Andersson 2010, p. 2 (ppt slides).
- "Critical Balance" (CB), an integral part of the OW process, also known as self-regulated learning in adult education, ensures that day-to-day tasks always keep sight of long-term objectives. re: (Andersson 2004, p. 161).
- "the whole" as compared to "combining materials or parts" (as e.g. in aforementioned "Capacity Building").
- As quoted from Andersson 2004, p. 168.
- 50 to 60 persons, depending on sources. de Morais, then a lawyer and one of the Peasant League co-founders, attended as legal consultant.
- see:Carmen & Sobrado 2000 Chapter 2 p.14-25 and Andersson 2004 p. 130 quote: "this led de Morais to think about other practical exercises where a shared resource base, activity and the need for analytical thought would stimulate the formation of organizational activists".
- Where he was consultant in charge of the PROCCARA Program (Campesino Capacitation Program for Agrarian Reform), which was to become the blueprint for the "Honduran Model", i.e. the application of the OW on a countrywide basis. re: Morais 1976 and Carmen & Sobrado 2000 Chapter 6.
- OW events are open to groups of minimum 40 and up to 1,000 and more participants, local conditions permitting. Childcare (and food) provision tend to be some of the primary foci around which the group gets organized. (Other sources speak of participants becoming "organizationally literate".)
- re: Learning and Capacitation Programme
- Ramafoko 2012
- Correia in Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 199, and Correia 2007, p. 6 explain the four types of Workshop: the Course OW, the Centre OW, the Enterprise OW, and the Field OW. The latter (Field OW) is the most commonly and frequently applied.
- Carmen & Sobrado 2000, p. 51. Part III – The OW in Practice; Labra & Labra 2012, p. 3 ; de Morais, C. Santos (1987). Botswana, a workshop on production organization. Rome,Italy: FAO FFHC –Freedom from Hunger Campaign – IDEAS & ACTION No. 175 (1987/4). pp. 8–17.; PPT Recap: "50 years of Organisation Workshop"
- Andersson, Gavin (2013) “Unbounded Organization” Part 1 Part 2 Gavin Andersson on Kurt Lewin and Lev Vygotsky, 30 May 2013 Andersson presents Kurt Lewin's approach as, in some respects, 'bounded', whereas Activity Theory, pioneered by Lev Vygotsky, as 'unbounded'. Part 1 & 2.
- Germinadora Project, 2014. (Spanish) Capacitacion Masiva y Germinadora 2014 – Large Group Capacitation and the Germinadora Project 2014 - Costa Rica
- Labra, Iván (2012) (bi-lingual en-es): Consciousness is in the Act
- Labra, Iván (2012) (bi-lingual en-es): The Organization Workshop