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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 13 Central to the concept of participation is the belief, as articulated by Freire (1970), that true participation requires dialogic interaction. In particular, Freire’s processes of investigation, analysis, and action must be the product of critical thinking, which “perceives reality as process, as transformation, rather than as a static entity - thinking which does not separate itself from action” (p. 81). This collaboration of thinking and action is precisely what Freire means by dialogue. Indeed, dialogue both “requires critical thinking, [and] is also capable of generating critical thinking” (p. 81). Dialogue, as a particular type of communication, is therefore required for successful participation, however, as Jacobson and Kolluri (1999) explain, PCD lacks a “framework explaining specifically what constitutes dialogue and how one might evaluate it as a communication process” (p. 273). Co- construction provides one such framework. Cissna and Anderson (1998) argue that dialogue is neither an individual process, nor ahistorical, and that moments of dialogue are “reality defining, and may even be world making” (p. 64). Cissna and Anderson focus heavily on the notion that dialogue is something which occurs only occasionally, and only momentarily. They look to Buber (as did Freire) for a definition of dialogue as mutuality, which is different from “reciprocity, in which one person does something for or to another, and in return the other is allowed or expected to do something for the first” (p. 69). Mutuality occurs when “we do something together which neither of us can do separately” (p. 69). This focus on the relationship echoes the co-construction emphasis on the dyad as the site of reality construction. Stewart and Zediker (2000) examine dialogue from an even more communication-centric position, and propose that dialogue can be understood either descriptively or prescriptively. The authors distinguish between Bakhtin’s descriptive approach to dialogue which simply asserts that because humans are irreducibly social beings, “dialogue is a prominent, pervasive, and consequential feature of the human condition” (p. 226), and Buber and Freire’s prescriptive approach which treats dialogue as an ideal to be strived toward or a goal to be achieved. Stewart and Zediker believe that a

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 13
Central to the concept of participation is the belief, as articulated by Freire (1970), that true
participation requires dialogic interaction. In particular, Freire’s processes of investigation, analysis,
and action must be the product of critical thinking, which “perceives reality as process, as
transformation, rather than as a static entity - thinking which does not separate itself from action” (p.
81). This collaboration of thinking and action is precisely what Freire means by dialogue. Indeed,
dialogue both “requires critical thinking, [and] is also capable of generating critical thinking” (p. 81).
Dialogue, as a particular type of communication, is therefore required for successful participation,
however, as Jacobson and Kolluri (1999) explain, PCD lacks a “framework explaining specifically
what constitutes dialogue and how one might evaluate it as a communication process” (p. 273). Co-
construction provides one such framework.
Cissna and Anderson (1998) argue that dialogue is neither an individual process, nor
ahistorical, and that moments of dialogue are “reality defining, and may even be world making” (p. 64).
Cissna and Anderson focus heavily on the notion that dialogue is something which occurs only
occasionally, and only momentarily. They look to Buber (as did Freire) for a definition of dialogue as
mutuality, which is different from “reciprocity, in which one person does something for or to another,
and in return the other is allowed or expected to do something for the first” (p. 69). Mutuality occurs
when “we do something together which neither of us can do separately” (p. 69). This focus on the
relationship echoes the co-construction emphasis on the dyad as the site of reality construction.
Stewart and Zediker (2000) examine dialogue from an even more communication-centric
position, and propose that dialogue can be understood either descriptively or prescriptively. The
authors distinguish between Bakhtin’s descriptive approach to dialogue which simply asserts that
because humans are irreducibly social beings, “dialogue is a prominent, pervasive, and consequential
feature of the human condition” (p. 226), and Buber and Freire’s prescriptive approach which treats
dialogue as an ideal to be strived toward or a goal to be achieved. Stewart and Zediker believe that a


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