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Paulo Freire Strikes again

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  • Richard Leary
    From the Introduction to Communication for Social Change: An Integrated Model for Measuring the Process and Its Outcomes Communication for Social Change
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2002
      From the Introduction to "Communication for Social Change:
      An Integrated Model for Measuring the Process and Its Outcomes"

      Communication for Social Change Working Paper Series

      This working paper was developed by Johns Hopkins University's Center
      for Communication Programs for the Rockefeller Foundation as part of their
      Communication for Social Change Grantmaking Strategy

      (Note: the full paper can be accessed via

      Also tells where to email to receive a free hard copy of the 50-page

      The guiding philosophy of communication for social
      change can readily be traced to the work of Paulo Freire
      (1970), the Brazilian educator who conceived of communication
      as dialogue and participation for the purpose of
      creating cultural identity, trust, commitment, ownership
      and empowerment (in today's term).The proposed model
      builds on this principle and a broad literature on develop-ment
      communication developed by practitioners, com-munication
      activists and scholars (such as Beltrán, Díaz
      Bordenave, Calvelo, Shirley White, Prieto Castillo, Everett
      Rogers, Mata, Simpson, Servaes, Portales and Kincaid), as
      well as on theories of communication, dialogue and con-flict
      resolution. In bringing together the work of practi-tioners
      and scholars we have found that there is consider-able
      agreement on the role of communication in devel-opment
      even though at various times over the last 30
      years the two groups have diverged.


      Such is the way I like to think of the body of work
      known as communication for social change.Those work-ing
      in this field often move mountains, as partners with
      the people of local communities and villages across the
      globe.Through communication for social change they
      move mountains of apathy, mountains of hopelessness,
      mountains of cynicism and even mountains of public
      inefficiency, waste and corruption.

      Buoyed by communication for social-change principles
      and skills they can also build mountains of empowerment
      for those who have previously been voiceless or seeming-ly

      This working paper, Communication for Social Change:
      An Integrated Model for Measuring the Process and Its
      Outcomes, takes a big step forward in refining the prac-tice
      of communication for social change. It is part of a
      larger strategy to spread communication for social-change
      thinking and ways of working broadly: to poor communi-ties
      that have never thought about communication as a
      tool they can control for improving their lives; within aid
      and donor organizations that are more comfortable being
      in control than in sharing control; or within academic
      institutions that are preparing the next generation of professional
      The community as defined in this document is a multilevel
      concept ranging from local, geographically defined enti-ties,
      such as villages, cities and nations, to international
      entities widely dispersed in space and time, such as
      activists organized by means of the Internet to protest the
      World Trade Organization. It also includes issue-related
      groups, such as the gay community, professional organiza-tions
      and even the development communication commu-nity
      itself. A more complete definition of community for
      purposes of measurement is provided in Section 2.

      The model also recognizes that communities are not
      homogeneous entities but are comprised of subgroups
      with social strata and divergent interests. As a conse-quence,
      disagreement and conflict are also incorporated
      into the communication for social-change model.The
      full layout of the model is presented in this section.The
      model also acknowledges that external constraints and
      supports often hinder or facilitate community dialogue
      and collective action.


      In April of 1997, 22 communication professionals, com-munity
      organizers, social-change activists and broadcasters
      from 12 countries met in Bellagio, Italy, at a conference
      sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation to examine the
      connections between social change and communications
      in the 21st century and to explore the possibilities of new
      communication strategies for social change. A follow-up
      meeting took place in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1998
      and 2000 (Gray-Felder and Deane, 1999).The members
      of these meetings defined communication for social
      change as "a process of public and private dialogue
      through which people define who they are, what they
      want and how they can get it" (1999, p. 15).These meet-ings
      clarified the most important questions and provided
      the appropriate perspective for an inclusive and partici-patory
      model of social change, but they did not specify
      any particular model (Gumucio, 2001). Nevertheless, a
      consensus was reached regarding the key components
      of such a model:

      - Sustainability of social change is more likely if the
      individuals and communities most affected own the
      process and content of communication.

      - Communication for social change should be empow-ering,
      horizontal (versus top-down), give a voice to
      the previously unheard members of the community,
      and be biased towards local content and ownership.

      - Communities should be the agents of their own

      - Emphasis should shift from persuasion and the trans-mission
      of information from outside technical experts
      to dialogue, debate and negotiation on issues that res-onate
      with members of the community.

      - Emphasis on outcomes should go beyond individual
      behavior to social norms, policies, culture and the sup-porting

      Following these recommendations, the Johns Hopkins
      University Center for Communication Programs, at the
      request of the Rockefeller Foundation, has developed
      the present report, Communication for Social Change: An
      Integrated Model for Measuring the Process and Its Outcomes.
      The purpose of this report is to provide a practical
      resource for community organizations, communication
      professionals and social-change activists working in devel-opment
      projects that they can use to assess the progress
      and the effects of their programs.
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