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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 15 This prescriptive understanding of dialogue acknowledges the centrality of face-to-face communication as informed by co-construction. As participants make communicative choices, they actively and collaboratively construct the possibility for dialogue. In so doing they provide the conditions for participatory communication for development. A co-construction focus on dialogue and consequently on the process of participation requires that communication be viewed, not simply as the means for achieving participation, but as the foundation for all interaction, including interaction that strives toward dialogue as a communicative ideal. The Process of Participation The first aspect of PCD that requires further treatment is the process involved in participatory interaction. Beyond providing a clearer understanding of communication in the process of participation, introducing the concept of co-construction also provides the basis for a more careful examination of the process of participation, and for responses to certain critiques of PCD. Both Servaes and Arnst (1999) and Jacobson and Kolluri (1999) assert that the process of participation includes the collective definition and evaluation of a problem, and the development and implementation of group-generated solutions to this problem. Servaes and Arnst identify three steps in this process: 1. Collective definition and investigation of a problem by a group of people struggling to deal with it. This involves the social investigation that determines the concrete condition existing within the community under study, by those embedded in the social context. 2. Group analysis of the underlying causes of their problems. 3. Group action to attempt to solve the problem. (p. 111) While the first step involves the collective definition of a problem by the participants, who are presumably both local and outside facilitators, a co-construction framework tells us that “collective” definition must always occur in the interaction between individuals, through a process in which each

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 15
This prescriptive understanding of dialogue acknowledges the centrality of face-to-face communication
as informed by co-construction. As participants make communicative choices, they actively and
collaboratively construct the possibility for dialogue. In so doing they provide the conditions for
participatory communication for development. A co-construction focus on dialogue and consequently
on the process of participation requires that communication be viewed, not simply as the means for
achieving participation, but as the foundation for all interaction, including interaction that strives
toward dialogue as a communicative ideal.
The Process of Participation
The first aspect of PCD that requires further treatment is the process involved in participatory
interaction. Beyond providing a clearer understanding of communication in the process of
participation, introducing the concept of co-construction also provides the basis for a more careful
examination of the process of participation, and for responses to certain critiques of PCD. Both
Servaes and Arnst (1999) and Jacobson and Kolluri (1999) assert that the process of participation
includes the collective definition and evaluation of a problem, and the development and
implementation of group-generated solutions to this problem. Servaes and Arnst identify three steps in
this process:
1. Collective definition and investigation of a problem by a group of people struggling to deal
with it. This involves the social investigation that determines the concrete condition existing
within the community under study, by those embedded in the social context.
2. Group analysis of the underlying causes of their problems.
3. Group action to attempt to solve the problem. (p. 111)
While the first step involves the collective definition of a problem by the participants, who are
presumably both local and outside facilitators, a co-construction framework tells us that “collective”
definition must always occur in the interaction between individuals, through a process in which each


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