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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 18 Neither Steeves nor Rahnema describe clearly what it takes for a facilitator to be sensitive. Without a clear treatment of the requirements for appropriate or successful or desirable facilitation there is no foundation for future training or preparation of agents. Moemeka (2000) offers more concrete advice when he explains that in order for the agent to work with, rather than work for, the people, the “development communicator [must] know and understand ‘the way of life’ of that target social system” (p. 103). In his discussion of PAR, Tilakaratna (1991) discusses how agents might come to know the local way of life when he calls for the “creation of a cadre of sensitized agents who have gone through a process of rigorous learning based on exposure to concrete experiences and self- reflection” (p. 137). He explains that sensitized agents will initially come from “socially conscious and active segments of the middle class” (p. 138), and that eventually the work of these agents will be taken over by local peoples. He lists the main elements of the learning process required to create sensitized agents including self-reflection, extended residency in a selected community, informal interaction with local people, and regular meetings with other trainees. Tilakaratna posits that through extended interaction with a community, and intermittent collective reflection with other trainees, the agent will begin “to show varying degrees of success in stimulating the people, with whom they had been interacting, to organize themselves so to initiate changes” (p. 139). Tilakaratna provides a clear space for use of a co-construction framework to further examine facilitation. In particular, how do interactions between agents (trainees or otherwise) and local people lead to greater participation? Tilakaratna does not examine the place of interaction in any detail, but Servaes and Arnst introduce the notion of trust as one way to look more carefully at the facilitation of participation. Servaes and Arnst (1999) look to Freire in arguing for the importance of trust in participatory development, for Freire insists that trust is “an a priori requirement for dialogue” (as cited in Servaes & Arnst, p. 125). Servaes and Arnst place much importance on trust and insist that “it may be more

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 18
Neither Steeves nor Rahnema describe clearly what it takes for a facilitator to be sensitive.
Without a clear treatment of the requirements for appropriate or successful or desirable facilitation
there is no foundation for future training or preparation of agents. Moemeka (2000) offers more
concrete advice when he explains that in order for the agent to work with, rather than work for, the
people, the “development communicator [must] know and understand ‘the way of life’ of that target
social system” (p. 103). In his discussion of PAR, Tilakaratna (1991) discusses how agents might
come to know the local way of life when he calls for the “creation of a cadre of sensitized agents who
have gone through a process of rigorous learning based on exposure to concrete experiences and self-
reflection” (p. 137). He explains that sensitized agents will initially come from “socially conscious
and active segments of the middle class” (p. 138), and that eventually the work of these agents will be
taken over by local peoples. He lists the main elements of the learning process required to create
sensitized agents including self-reflection, extended residency in a selected community, informal
interaction with local people, and regular meetings with other trainees. Tilakaratna posits that
through extended interaction with a community, and intermittent collective reflection with other
trainees, the agent will begin “to show varying degrees of success in stimulating the people, with
whom they had been interacting, to organize themselves so to initiate changes” (p. 139). Tilakaratna
provides a clear space for use of a co-construction framework to further examine facilitation. In
particular, how do interactions between agents (trainees or otherwise) and local people lead to greater
participation? Tilakaratna does not examine the place of interaction in any detail, but Servaes and
Arnst introduce the notion of trust as one way to look more carefully at the facilitation of
participation.
Servaes and Arnst (1999) look to Freire in arguing for the importance of trust in participatory
development, for Freire insists that trust is “an a priori requirement for dialogue” (as cited in Servaes
& Arnst, p. 125). Servaes and Arnst place much importance on trust and insist that “it may be more


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