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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 6 development, Huesca (2000) points out that there is a “paradox [in] elevating the place of interaction while neglecting communication theory,” and he believes that this paradox “opens a space for the contributions of participatory development communication research” (p. 78). However, before exploring participatory communication for development further, it is important to consider the role of communication in development theories. Communication and Development In 1986, Narula and Pearce developed the revolutionary notion that “development [is] a form of communication, not a political or economic process which includes communication as a more or less important component” (p. 1). This assertion was revolutionary precisely because of the way communication had been envisioned and understood in modernist development to that point. Although communication was seen as an “indispensable tool for making the people of underdeveloped societies more modern” (Narula & Pearce, p. 26), communication was not understood as a transactional process, but as a means of “conveying informative and persuasive messages from a government to the people in a downward, hierarchical way” (Rogers, 1976, p. 133). Thus, in modernist development models, communication was conceived of and examined in terms of the “message” rather than the process. As a result, theories of media persuasion and marketing were the primary theories employed in the planning and implementation of development programs. In this framework, even the concept of participation was treated as a matter of persuasion. Jacobson and Kolluri (1999) indicate that participation was advanced as a method that could be used, particularly in media programming, to ensure better success rates in development. The result was development programs which consulted with local peoples about their dis/likes as grounds for creating the most effective messages. This is certainly not participation in the spirit of PAR. Narula and Pearce document some of the simplistic and ultimately destructive notions of communication:

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development
6
development, Huesca (2000) points out that there is a “paradox [in] elevating the place of interaction
while neglecting communication theory,” and he believes that this paradox “opens a space for the
contributions of participatory development communication research” (p. 78). However, before
exploring participatory communication for development further, it is important to consider the role of
communication in development theories.
Communication and Development
In 1986, Narula and Pearce developed the revolutionary notion that “development [is] a form
of communication, not a political or economic process which includes communication as a more or
less important component” (p. 1). This assertion was revolutionary precisely because of the way
communication had been envisioned and understood in modernist development to that point.
Although communication was seen as an “indispensable tool for making the people of
underdeveloped societies more modern” (Narula & Pearce, p. 26), communication was not
understood as a transactional process, but as a means of “conveying informative and persuasive
messages from a government to the people in a downward, hierarchical way” (Rogers, 1976, p. 133).
Thus, in modernist development models, communication was conceived of and examined in terms of
the “message” rather than the process. As a result, theories of media persuasion and marketing were
the primary theories employed in the planning and implementation of development programs. In this
framework, even the concept of participation was treated as a matter of persuasion. Jacobson and
Kolluri (1999) indicate that participation was advanced as a method that could be used, particularly in
media programming, to ensure better success rates in development. The result was development
programs which consulted with local peoples about their dis/likes as grounds for creating the most
effective messages. This is certainly not participation in the spirit of PAR. Narula and Pearce
document some of the simplistic and ultimately destructive notions of communication:


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