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An Analysis of Participatory Communication for Development: A Social Construction Perspective
Unformatted Document Text:  Participatory Communication for Development 9 Despite the linkage between participation and communication in PCD, communication continues to be seen as but one element of the participation process, rather than as the one fundamental element that makes participation possible in the first place. As Friesen (1999) notes, “knowledgeable human agents, through repetitive social practices, produce and reproduce the social conditions that affect them” (Friesen, 1999, p. 294). This position echoes Pearce’s (1995) descriptions of the social-constructionist way of understanding the world. From a social construction perspective, the world is not an objective reality which can be observed and thus known by humans. Instead, human understanding of the world is a collaborative creative process. Pearce and Pearce (2000) take the notion of social construction one step further and posit the “communication perspective” which holds that “the events and objects of the social world . . . [are] co-constructed by the coordinated actions of . . . persons-in-conversation” (p. 408). This perspective underscores the centrality of communication, for it is in everyday conversation that we create and re-create our social worlds. It is from this perspective on communication as a fundamental human process that I will conduct an examination of participatory communication for development. In doing so, I am responding to Jacobson and Kolluri’s (1999) assertion that even after twenty years of various contributions to PCD, “no single definition has been both systematically elaborated and widely accepted” (p. 269). In particular, using a social construction framework, I will systematically examine the central position of communication in creating, maintaining and enacting participation. A Social Construction Perspective Participatory Communication for Development (PCD) is a theory which combines approaches to participation in development, as influenced by Paulo Freire and Participatory Action Research (PAR), with a focus on communication. At present, definitions of PCD remain “highly varied” (Jacobson & Kolluri, 1999, p. 268), which is detrimental to the development of the theory and makes it

Authors: Dare, Alexa.
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Participatory Communication for Development
9
Despite the linkage between participation and communication in PCD, communication
continues to be seen as but one element of the participation process, rather than as the one
fundamental element that makes participation possible in the first place. As Friesen (1999) notes,
“knowledgeable human agents, through repetitive social practices, produce and reproduce the social
conditions that affect them” (Friesen, 1999, p. 294). This position echoes Pearce’s (1995)
descriptions of the social-constructionist way of understanding the world. From a social construction
perspective, the world is not an objective reality which can be observed and thus known by humans.
Instead, human understanding of the world is a collaborative creative process. Pearce and Pearce
(2000) take the notion of social construction one step further and posit the “communication
perspective” which holds that “the events and objects of the social world . . . [are] co-constructed by
the coordinated actions of . . . persons-in-conversation” (p. 408). This perspective underscores the
centrality of communication, for it is in everyday conversation that we create and re-create our social
worlds.
It is from this perspective on communication as a fundamental human process that I will
conduct an examination of participatory communication for development. In doing so, I am
responding to Jacobson and Kolluri’s (1999) assertion that even after twenty years of various
contributions to PCD, “no single definition has been both systematically elaborated and widely
accepted” (p. 269). In particular, using a social construction framework, I will systematically
examine the central position of communication in creating, maintaining and enacting participation.
A Social Construction Perspective
Participatory Communication for Development (PCD) is a theory which combines approaches
to participation in development, as influenced by Paulo Freire and Participatory Action Research
(PAR), with a focus on communication. At present, definitions of PCD remain “highly varied”
(Jacobson & Kolluri, 1999, p. 268), which is detrimental to the development of the theory and makes it


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