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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 20 relational phenomenon. That is, trust will be constructed and perceived differently in each relational interaction, and can no longer be described as a personality trait or personal characteristic. Important to notions of facilitation, trust is developed and evolves over time, in that “a single episode can form the basis for future instances of trust and cooperation” (Good, 1988, p. 33). As with the process of participation, it is important to recognize the relationship between the co-construction of episodes of trust, and the larger social construction of facilitation. Over time, as the facilitator co-creates relational trust with various members of the community, those relationships form the foundation for a more durable, long-term social trust in the community. Understanding trust from a co-construction perspective requires that the facilitator focus on interpersonal communication as the fundamental catalyst for participation. Implications for facilitation arise from this focus on trust as relationally co-constructed. If the facilitator understands that trust is built through conversation over time with various individuals, he or she will value informal conversations over public address or structured meetings. A long term focus on dyadic interaction will also help to break down the developer-subject/developee-object dichotomy which Freire condemns in his discussions of education. A co-construction perspective makes evident that the agent (as subject) is not involved in filling the local person (as object) with information. If the facilitator truly privileges interaction over information transfer, there is the potential for the experience to be mutually educational/transformational. And if the facilitator approaches the project with the goal of mutual learning, the risk that the facilitator will become a “militant ideologue” is diminished. Valuing Local Knowledge A final element of PCD to that requires consideration is local knowledge. In their introduction to Theoretical Approaches to Participatory Communication, Jacobson and Servaes (1999) argue that “the knowledge, experience, and goals of local communities themselves must occupy a central role in development planning, execution, and evaluation” (p. 3). In his 1991

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 20
relational phenomenon. That is, trust will be constructed and perceived differently in each relational
interaction, and can no longer be described as a personality trait or personal characteristic. Important
to notions of facilitation, trust is developed and evolves over time, in that “a single episode can form
the basis for future instances of trust and cooperation” (Good, 1988, p. 33). As with the process of
participation, it is important to recognize the relationship between the co-construction of episodes of
trust, and the larger social construction of facilitation. Over time, as the facilitator co-creates
relational trust with various members of the community, those relationships form the foundation for a
more durable, long-term social trust in the community.
Understanding trust from a co-construction perspective requires that the facilitator focus on
interpersonal communication as the fundamental catalyst for participation. Implications for facilitation
arise from this focus on trust as relationally co-constructed. If the facilitator understands that trust is
built through conversation over time with various individuals, he or she will value informal
conversations over public address or structured meetings. A long term focus on dyadic interaction will
also help to break down the developer-subject/developee-object dichotomy which Freire condemns in
his discussions of education. A co-construction perspective makes evident that the agent (as subject) is
not involved in filling the local person (as object) with information. If the facilitator truly privileges
interaction over information transfer, there is the potential for the experience to be mutually
educational/transformational. And if the facilitator approaches the project with the goal of mutual
learning, the risk that the facilitator will become a “militant ideologue” is diminished.
Valuing Local Knowledge
A final element of PCD to that requires consideration is local knowledge. In their
introduction to Theoretical Approaches to Participatory Communication, Jacobson and Servaes
(1999) argue that “the knowledge, experience, and goals of local communities themselves must
occupy a central role in development planning, execution, and evaluation” (p. 3). In his 1991


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