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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 24 and tensional, and make evident that a focus on dialogue values process over product. In more fully understanding dialogue, agencies and facilitators can avoid Dervin and Huesca’s (1999) critique that despite the focus on the process of participation, PCP nonetheless “ends up being conceptualized in nonprocess ways” (p. 177). Dialogue has been clearly examined both in terms of a co-construction perspective, and in terms of practical applications. In addition, both Stewart (1978) and Pearce and Pearce (2000) provide descriptions of the practical implementation of dialogue which can be useful for training facilitators in the practice of dialogue. Stewart develops a dialogic approach to interpersonal communication, and Pearce and Pearce examine how to facilitate dialogue as part of work with communities. Another implication of adopting a co-construction approach is that the process of communication takes time. Servaes and Arnst (1999) and others make the point that PCD projects take more time, and that this is one of its more unattractive features to funding agencies. However, understanding the process of participation from a co-construction perspective helps to clarify why participation takes time. Clearly describing the way in which participation is socially constructed, over time, through repeated and networked face-to-face communication, may be one way to address funders or administrators who ask, “Why are they just sitting around? Shouldn’t they be doing something?” Beyond providing a framework for presenting PCD projects to funders, a co-construction perspective also helps to clarify the nature of facilitation. Indeed, it transforms the unhelpful notion that a good facilitator has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, by providing a framework for understanding the communication processes involved in creating the type of trusting interaction seen as essential to PCD. Co-construction points to work in interpersonal communication that positions trust as relational, and in so doing lends support to Freire’s call for a move away from the Cartesian subject- object dichotomy to a more collaborative subject-subject approach. In understanding trust as

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development 24
and tensional, and make evident that a focus on dialogue values process over product. In more fully
understanding dialogue, agencies and facilitators can avoid Dervin and Huesca’s (1999) critique that
despite the focus on the process of participation, PCP nonetheless “ends up being conceptualized in
nonprocess ways” (p. 177). Dialogue has been clearly examined both in terms of a co-construction
perspective, and in terms of practical applications. In addition, both Stewart (1978) and Pearce and
Pearce (2000) provide descriptions of the practical implementation of dialogue which can be useful
for training facilitators in the practice of dialogue. Stewart develops a dialogic approach to
interpersonal communication, and Pearce and Pearce examine how to facilitate dialogue as part of
work with communities.
Another implication of adopting a co-construction approach is that the process of
communication takes time. Servaes and Arnst (1999) and others make the point that PCD projects
take more time, and that this is one of its more unattractive features to funding agencies. However,
understanding the process of participation from a co-construction perspective helps to clarify why
participation takes time. Clearly describing the way in which participation is socially constructed,
over time, through repeated and networked face-to-face communication, may be one way to address
funders or administrators who ask, “Why are they just sitting around? Shouldn’t they be doing
something?”
Beyond providing a framework for presenting PCD projects to funders, a co-construction
perspective also helps to clarify the nature of facilitation. Indeed, it transforms the unhelpful notion
that a good facilitator has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, by providing a framework for understanding the
communication processes involved in creating the type of trusting interaction seen as essential to
PCD. Co-construction points to work in interpersonal communication that positions trust as
relational, and in so doing lends support to Freire’s call for a move away from the Cartesian subject-
object dichotomy to a more collaborative subject-subject approach. In understanding trust as


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