Special issue on Citizens’ Media and Communication: Development in Practice

Civic Action,Development Policy18 Jan 2010Janelle Ward

The journal Development in Practice recently released a special issue on Citizens’ Media and Communication. The publisher, Routledge, has granted free access to the 20 articles plus a guest editors’ introduction (written by Jethro Pettit, Juan Francisco Salazar, and Alfonso Gumuncio Dagron).

The issue is divided into seven subject areas, many of which may be of interest to The Broker readers, such as Media and Communication as Methods of Transformation (section III) and The Role of Media in Social Movements (section VI). See the website for a full list.

In their introductory piece, the editors argue that citizens’ media “contributes to processes of social and cultural construction, redefining norms and power relations that exclude people. Local ownership and control of their own media can allow people to reshape the spaces in which their voices find expression.” Two articles from the special issue can be used in order to illustrate this claim.

The first, by Usha Sundar Harris, is entitled “Transforming images: reimagining women’s work through participatory video.” This article, which is an ethnographic study conducted in rural Fiji, looks at how communities engage with processes of production (in this case, through a participatory video workshop) for empowerment. The author shows that rural Fiji women use social capital (as defined as their relationships and social networks) to focus on the needs of the broader community.

The second I’d like to highlight, by Alejandro Barranquero and entitled “The state of the art in citizens’ communication for social change in Spain” talks about how despite a rich history of Spanish citizens’ communication, academics have neglected to explore this topic (for example, because of a frequent disassociation between theory and practice). The article provides in-depth content but also food for thought as to how to better understand a variety of national contexts and how development and academic work progress within them.

This special issue of Development in Practice provides a wide variety of writing on an important contemporary topic. The content looks like it will remain open access, so there is plenty of time to have a look at some excellent recent research on the topic of citizens’ media and communication.