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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 12 neither can be examined or understood apart from the other. Thus, in conversation, participants are always mutually changing, modifying, creating, confirming, re-creating, and maintaining meaning. This process of reality creation emerges as “participants produce adjacent utterances and in so doing mutually constrain and reciprocally influence one another’s formulating of interpretings” (p. 126). A co-construction understanding of communication differs substantially from most common assumptions about the nature of communication. Most people talk about and understand the process of communication as an encoding/decoding model of communication which presumes that senders take their meanings and encode them into language which is then decoded by the receiver. The assumption is that as long as the sender and the receiver share the same code (language), successful communication will be achieved. Clearly, this model of communication does not acknowledge the place of interaction in creating meaning. Communication is instead seen to be an individual event, in which one individual as subject acts upon another individual as object. The co-construction model of communication, however, insists that the “conversational interaction [is] the primordial locus for . . . sense-making” (Jacoby & Ochs, 1995, p. 172). It is the dyad or the interaction itself which is the essential unit in communication, not the individual. Whereas social construction is concerned with a larger system of co-constructed moments, the co-construction model provides a framework for examining the creation of meaning in face-to-face interaction,. Stewart (1995) argues that human dynamic understanding “occurs in contact between persons, that is, the event is irreducibly dialogical” (p. 36). He then argues that “the ongoing process of understading-via-languaging is the human’s way of constituting world” (p. 36). For the purpose of this study, co-construction can provide insights into the face-to-face, communicative element of participation, while social construction provides a framework for discussions of the larger social processes involved in a long-term development or community project. Dialogue as a Communication Process

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 12
neither can be examined or understood apart from the other. Thus, in conversation, participants are
always mutually changing, modifying, creating, confirming, re-creating, and maintaining meaning.
This process of reality creation emerges as “participants produce adjacent utterances and in so doing
mutually constrain and reciprocally influence one another’s formulating of interpretings” (p. 126).
A co-construction understanding of communication differs substantially from most common
assumptions about the nature of communication. Most people talk about and understand the process of
communication as an encoding/decoding model of communication which presumes that senders take
their meanings and encode them into language which is then decoded by the receiver. The assumption
is that as long as the sender and the receiver share the same code (language), successful communication
will be achieved. Clearly, this model of communication does not acknowledge the place of interaction
in creating meaning. Communication is instead seen to be an individual event, in which one individual
as subject acts upon another individual as object. The co-construction model of communication,
however, insists that the “conversational interaction [is] the primordial locus for . . . sense-making”
(Jacoby & Ochs, 1995, p. 172). It is the dyad or the interaction itself which is the essential unit in
communication, not the individual.
Whereas social construction is concerned with a larger system of co-constructed moments, the
co-construction model provides a framework for examining the creation of meaning in face-to-face
interaction,. Stewart (1995) argues that human dynamic understanding “occurs in contact between
persons, that is, the event is irreducibly dialogical” (p. 36). He then argues that “the ongoing process of
understading-via-languaging is the human’s way of constituting world” (p. 36). For the purpose of this
study, co-construction can provide insights into the face-to-face, communicative element of
participation, while social construction provides a framework for discussions of the larger social
processes involved in a long-term development or community project.
Dialogue as a Communication Process


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