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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World

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Edited By Clifford G. Christians and Kaarle Nordenstreng

This volume is an up-to-date account of communication theories from around the world.
Authored by a group of eminent scholars, each chapter is a history and state-of-the-art description of the major issues in international communication theory.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each multicultural context.

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Part Three: Thematic Approaches

Extract

New digital media are playing a central role in these contemporary social movements, circulating information, opening up spaces for social critiques, and facilitating new forms of social mobilization . In this respect, 2011 was a seminal year, giving rise to a number of social movements of continuing importance that, I argue in this chapter, constitute a new generation of participatory communica- tion that continues the long history in this field . Despite the existence of a common language and some degree of discursive consensus around the merits of media and communication in enhancing bot- tom-up development and citizenship, many different interpretations persist . This chapter deconstructs some of these interpretations, introducing a series of concep- tual distinctions that can help distinguish one discourse from the other . The “new tyranny” of participation, as Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari charac- terized the discursive dominance of participation in “devspeak” more than a de- cade ago (2001), seems to be repeating itself in ComDev speak . Communication for development discourse is all about participatory communication, but what does it actually mean? Most development agencies focus on developing vertical spaces for participation, in which target audiences, through strategic communica- tive interventions, are invited to participate, gain knowledge, deliberate, debate, and change behavior . However, these participatory communication practices have little or nothing in common with the new generation of social movements . The differences between an institutionalized participatory communication practice and the ways social movements mobilize and communicate for social justice and social change are in part explained by their different...

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