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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 10 difficult to respond to critiques of participatory approaches. Additionally, without careful attention to the assumptions about communication in PCD, there is a danger of continuing to promote faulty or unsupportive communication strategies in development. My first broad goal is to examine PCD from a social construction perspective in that social construction offers a framework for examining communication as the central element of this theory. To accomplish this goal, I first define what is meant by the social construction of reality, and develop the central place of communication in this perspective. In linking social construction and communication, I introduce a co-construction model of communication. I then employ a co- construction framework to examine the notion of dialogue as a communication process. A second important goal responds to Waters’ (2000) assertion that discussions of participatory approaches to development communication have not yet clearly examined the “communicative procedures that occur in project situations where external practitioners . . . work with local communities to solve development problems” (p. 90). She believes that a consideration of these procedures “demands [a] more focused analysis of how participation is actually produced, perceived, and represented” (p. 90). I will employ social construction in such an analysis. To achieve my second goal, I carefully analyze the three key aspects of PCD presented earlier: the process of participation, the nature of facilitation, and the importance of local knowledge. Examining these three aspects of PCD in turn provides grounds for productive responses to some common critiques of participation. The Social Construction of Reality The social construction of reality refers to a particular set of perspectives on how humans come to know the world. This paradigm arose from critiques of positivist assumptions about the world, and in particular the positivist ambition to discover the objective Truth about life/humans/the world. Social constructionists reject the assumption that meaning exists in some tangible form independent of human thought, and instead posit that meaning is constructed in social interaction. Social constructionists do

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 10
difficult to respond to critiques of participatory approaches. Additionally, without careful attention to
the assumptions about communication in PCD, there is a danger of continuing to promote faulty or
unsupportive communication strategies in development.
My first broad goal is to examine PCD from a social construction perspective in that social
construction offers a framework for examining communication as the central element of this theory.
To accomplish this goal, I first define what is meant by the social construction of reality, and develop
the central place of communication in this perspective. In linking social construction and
communication, I introduce a co-construction model of communication. I then employ a co-
construction framework to examine the notion of dialogue as a communication process.
A second important goal responds to Waters’ (2000) assertion that discussions of participatory
approaches to development communication have not yet clearly examined the “communicative
procedures that occur in project situations where external practitioners . . . work with local
communities to solve development problems” (p. 90). She believes that a consideration of these
procedures “demands [a] more focused analysis of how participation is actually produced, perceived,
and represented” (p. 90). I will employ social construction in such an analysis. To achieve my second
goal, I carefully analyze the three key aspects of PCD presented earlier: the process of participation,
the nature of facilitation, and the importance of local knowledge. Examining these three aspects of
PCD in turn provides grounds for productive responses to some common critiques of participation.
The Social Construction of Reality
The social construction of reality refers to a particular set of perspectives on how humans come
to know the world. This paradigm arose from critiques of positivist assumptions about the world, and
in particular the positivist ambition to discover the objective Truth about life/humans/the world. Social
constructionists reject the assumption that meaning exists in some tangible form independent of human
thought, and instead posit that meaning is constructed in social interaction. Social constructionists do


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