The vision of People Studies is to work towards an equitable, hunger-free, healthy and safe society on an earth that is tilled with respect and inhabited in harmony with the universal rhythm — an end to be attained through engaging itself in people-building processes encompassing research and training endeavours leading to a knowledge-action movement evincing greater cultural and political, ecological and psycho-spiritual ramifications.
The mission of People Studies is to create an alternative political culture by committing itself to people-centred, field-based, research-oriented knowledge-action movement. People — especially the periphery, marginalised and excluded communities including farmers and tribals, rural and urban poor, the emerging digitised cyber generations, and vulnerable groups such as children, women, the sick, the old and the specially-abled — are the pivotal focal points, the principal change-agents and the end-beneficiaries of the very knowledge-action; hence they are not merely construed as the con-texts of study but primarily the co-texts, not just targets but partnered as co-investigators.
The core philosophy of and the guiding principle for People Studies is the motto ‘Studying the People is For the People’ [‘makkalai aaivathu makkalukkaakavae’]. People Studies believes that knowledge is public and it can / should never be a monopoly of individuals, groups or institutions; thus, every effort is taken to disseminate its research outcomes as extensively as it can, accessing as many communication / media networks as feasible and affordable.
Consonant with its Vision and Mission, People Studies has the following objectives:
- to undertake multi-disciplinary, multi-layered socially relevant, eco-conscious, gender-sensitive researches, the very methodology of which would include people as primary stake-holders,
- to creatively use the research outcomes to innovate, design and conduct issue- and skill- based newer academic, entrepreneurial, leadership and media training programmes and socio-political engagements, with children, youth, women and the differently-abled as focal points, with the view to empowering them,
- to produce multi-genre, multi-design, multiple-media texts both informative and entertaining, with people as co-partners in the production process, simultaneously making it in-the-field training in media arts and crafts,
- to involve in its programmes as many as feasible from various walks of life, particularly children, youth and women, providing a ‘hands-on’ experience of or an insight into the intricate cultural-political reality,
- to disseminate the research outcomes and the media-text packages through mainstream and alternative, conventional and virtual media, and also through own marketing outlets and publication of need-based print and online journals to reach out to as many people, the end beneficiaries, as possible,
- to bring together the academicians, social and political activists, media practitioners and all ‘people-thinking’ persons and organisations to deliberate on and proactively respond to the persistent and emerging concerns / issues of the people as evidenced in the research outcomes, and by so doing, to contribute to the framing of policies and programmes of governments at various levels, and other people-centred agencies of import,
- to initiate research programmes in partnership with farmers and other relevant organisations to cultivate particularly in youth and children love and respect for land and labour, nature and universe at large, embracing agricultural-ecological, cultural-indological, aesthetic-technological, and holistic health and life-style dimensions, and
- to undertake commissioned projects with professional competence, without at the same time jeopardizing or contravening its people-centred-ness, and in the process to make it self-sustainable.
People Studies is a people-building, multi-disciplinary research-based knowledge-action initiative with an unambiguous, uncompromising people focus, guided by the motto ‘studying the people is for the people’.
People Studies has its beginnings in the early 1990s in the informal, personal and academic micro research activities of Prof. S. Rajanayagam. After a decade of experimentation and learning, during 2000-01 it launched its first major State-level study in the form of opinion polls. It took a definite organisational form in 2006, by weaving together the multi-directional, creative, technical, developmental, humanitarian and knowledge initiatives and concerns of Rajanayagam, who remains the perennial source of inspiration and challenge.
People Studies, well-known in Thamizh Nadu and Karnataka for its opinion polls, in fact has, other than opinion polls, a wide colourful range of multi-dimensional activities covering the whole of south India.
Functioning initially from within the campus of Loyola College, Chennai, People Studies now has shifted closer to the people with its urban office in Choolaimedu, Chennai and the field training centre at Paliyankudi, Theni district, on Thamizh Nadu – Kerala border.