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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 5 solutions. It is particularly difficult for the oppressed or marginalized to obtain this critical awareness because “they cannot exercise their right to participate consciously in the socio-historical transformation of their society” (Crotty, 1998, p. 154). Thomas (1994) explains that Freire’s concept of dialogue “emanates” from Buber’s I-Thou notions, which point to dialogue as a community act, not an individual act. Indeed, dialogue is the act “of freeing oneself from the shackles of individualism and emerging into full personhood in a community” (p. 52). Dialogue in this context also requires the freeing of oneself from the shackles of being an object. That is, marginalized peoples engaged in dialogue must re-create a social reality in which they are central actors, in which they are the subjects, in which they are the agents of change. In Freire’s conception of critical thinking, one of the most important desired results of dialogue for critical thinking is increased participation. Freire’s theories arose from his work in adult education, but his concepts of dialogue, critical thinking, and in particular, participation, have been assimilated by other theorists and for use in other contexts. Thomas explains the connection between Freire and development: [Freire] proposed the act of critical reflection as a vital element in the making of an alternative, participatory development. Authentic participation would then enable the subjects involved in [a] dialogic encounter to unveil reality for themselves. (p. 51) Both PAR and Freire have contributed to contemporary theorizing about development that focuses on the importance of participation. Researchers interested in notions of participation and communication in the development context have highlighted the connection between dialogue (as understood by Buber and Freire) and local participation in the development process. If development is to benefit those whom it intends to benefit, i.e., local, poor, often rural, disadvantanged peoples, then these people need to be able to participate meaningfully in the development process. Although there has been increasing interest in and attention paid to concepts of local peoples’ participation in

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development
5
solutions. It is particularly difficult for the oppressed or marginalized to obtain this critical
awareness because “they cannot exercise their right to participate consciously in the socio-historical
transformation of their society” (Crotty, 1998, p. 154).
Thomas (1994) explains that Freire’s concept of dialogue “emanates” from Buber’s I-Thou
notions, which point to dialogue as a community act, not an individual act. Indeed, dialogue is the act
“of freeing oneself from the shackles of individualism and emerging into full personhood in a
community” (p. 52). Dialogue in this context also requires the freeing of oneself from the shackles of
being an object. That is, marginalized peoples engaged in dialogue must re-create a social reality in
which they are central actors, in which they are the subjects, in which they are the agents of change.
In Freire’s conception of critical thinking, one of the most important desired results of
dialogue for critical thinking is increased participation. Freire’s theories arose from his work in adult
education, but his concepts of dialogue, critical thinking, and in particular, participation, have been
assimilated by other theorists and for use in other contexts. Thomas explains the connection between
Freire and development:
[Freire] proposed the act of critical reflection as a vital element in the making of an
alternative, participatory development. Authentic participation would then enable the subjects
involved in [a] dialogic encounter to unveil reality for themselves. (p. 51)
Both PAR and Freire have contributed to contemporary theorizing about development that
focuses on the importance of participation. Researchers interested in notions of participation and
communication in the development context have highlighted the connection between dialogue (as
understood by Buber and Freire) and local participation in the development process. If development
is to benefit those whom it intends to benefit, i.e., local, poor, often rural, disadvantanged peoples,
then these people need to be able to participate meaningfully in the development process. Although
there has been increasing interest in and attention paid to concepts of local peoples’ participation in


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