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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 17 development guide the project with their own agendas, and will encourage a process which is truly participatory. Finally, it is important to remember that persons in dialogue are indeed active participants. As such, a co-construction perspective “affirm[s] that participants to interaction are not passive robots living out pre-programmed linguistic ‘rules’, discourse ‘conventions’, or cultural prescriptions for social identity” (Jacoby & Ochs, 1995, p. 177). This focus on active participation is consistent with and informs the drive to recognize the agency of participants in the PCD literature. If dialogue is necessary to the process of participation, then co-construction allows for a clearer envisioning of the communication processes involved in the overall social construction of a participatory development project. Participation is the result of co-constructed moments, which over time are repeated and shared and contribute to a socially constructed reality/understanding. Thus, when Jacobson and Servaes speak of the continual steps involved in PCD, it is important to understand that the transformatory interactions are co-constructed in dialogue, and it is only over time and through extended shared networks that meanings/knowledge/change gets socially constructed. Facilitating Participation A second aspect of PCD that requires further consideration is the role of the development worker in facilitating participation. Significant questions remain about how (or if) local participation in a development project can be facilitated by an individual from outside of the community. Steeves (2000) cites the notion that “only certain people are capable of engaging in true participation” (p. 14). These “special” people are “those who have an unusual level of energy, intelligence, sensitivity, and inner freedom, and who are capable of a high degree of self-reflexivity” (p. 14). In Rahnema’s (1992) critique of participation, he concedes that the (few) examples of successful or true participation in development occurred when external agents “use[d] their personal gifts [and] acted as sensitive and compassionate catalysts” (p. 124) for participatory development.

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 17
development guide the project with their own agendas, and will encourage a process which is truly
participatory.
Finally, it is important to remember that persons in dialogue are indeed active participants. As
such, a co-construction perspective “affirm[s] that participants to interaction are not passive robots
living out pre-programmed linguistic ‘rules’, discourse ‘conventions’, or cultural prescriptions for
social identity” (Jacoby & Ochs, 1995, p. 177). This focus on active participation is consistent with
and informs the drive to recognize the agency of participants in the PCD literature. If dialogue is
necessary to the process of participation, then co-construction allows for a clearer envisioning of the
communication processes involved in the overall social construction of a participatory development
project. Participation is the result of co-constructed moments, which over time are repeated and shared
and contribute to a socially constructed reality/understanding. Thus, when Jacobson and Servaes speak
of the continual steps involved in PCD, it is important to understand that the transformatory
interactions are co-constructed in dialogue, and it is only over time and through extended shared
networks that meanings/knowledge/change gets socially constructed.
Facilitating Participation
A second aspect of PCD that requires further consideration is the role of the development
worker in facilitating participation. Significant questions remain about how (or if) local participation
in a development project can be facilitated by an individual from outside of the community. Steeves
(2000) cites the notion that “only certain people are capable of engaging in true participation” (p. 14).
These “special” people are “those who have an unusual level of energy, intelligence, sensitivity, and
inner freedom, and who are capable of a high degree of self-reflexivity” (p. 14). In Rahnema’s (1992)
critique of participation, he concedes that the (few) examples of successful or true participation in
development occurred when external agents “use[d] their personal gifts [and] acted as sensitive and
compassionate catalysts” (p. 124) for participatory development.


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