Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Communication and Social Change

Communication has an important role in the society as it contributes in the development of the society. Sarvaes cited Schramm’s study that the introduction of media and certain types of educational, political, and economic information into a social system could transform individuals and societies from traditional to modern.[1] Furthermore Sarvaes emphasized on the need of participatory communication in furthering the social change. He believed that both the communicators and receivers need to increase their ability to listen, because participation will help reduce the social distance, facilitate a more equitable exchanges of ideas, knowledge and experiences. Thus the proliferation of the actor engaging in communication, is necessary for a better way of social change.

The need for participatory communication derived from the dependency theorist logic that changes must come “bottom-up”, from self development of local communities. Criticizing the development model of top down approach, he favors that a multiplicity of approaches based on the context, needs, and the empowerment of the most oppressed sectors of various societies at divergent levels. I agree with what he said that change must be structural and occur at multiple levels to achieve these ends.[2] Furthermore, the participatory communication stresses the importance of cultural identity of local communities and of democratization and participation at all levels- international, national, local and individual. It points to a strategy that largely emanating from, the traditional ‘receivers’.

At this point I want to stressed about the role of social media as a means of proliferating participatory communication. The emergence and development of the world wide web seem had and will continue to revolutionizing the communication sphere. With an easy and user friendly feature, global and local publishing became a reality for those people who have been always a passive receivers in a communication process where mainstream media dominates. Domingo said that web have its setting in a true “castellsian” sense: instead of one-way communication flows, from a few central points to countless receivers, where there would be a network of communication flows between equally influential nodes capable of acting both as senders and receivers of information.[3]

Beside the increasing use of mainstream medias of the web, the web became a space for the ever expanding social media. Currently weblogs seem to be everywhere around journalism, the media publish weblogs as one item in their online content repertoire, individual journalists have taken up blogging, and plenty of amateurs maintaining weblogs that at least to a certain extent resemble news journalism. Furthermore social networking web such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter makes the nodes of network more dispersed. More than just subscribe to a mainstream media, nowadays people subscribe each others. Other examples are Avaaz.org and 350.org that mobilize support for their cause and have prominent influence as a pressure group.

The web had clearly changed how we interact, and its getting more important for the people to web literate. Furthermore, Luders even argued that the ability to juggle between online and offline social sphere become a characteristic element of social competence in network society.[4]

People in the web participate in various issues and ways, by dispersing news, forming opinion, debating, mobilizing support, thus involved in a discourse practice that contribute to the development of the society itself. They participate in the discussion of policy formation because an easier valve of communicating is available. Therefore i would suggest that cyber access of development policy needs to be furthered in order to widen the participation from the society. Even though digital gap exist, but it is still a ‘necessary but insufficient’ ways to include the society in the development and social change agenda.

[1] Servaes, Jan and Malikhao, Patchanee, Ch.5 Participatory communication, in Media and Glocal Change, available at http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/edicion/media/09Chapter5.pdf, p.91

[2] Servaes, Jan and Malikhao, Patchanee, Ch.5 Participatory communication, in Media and Glocal Change, available at, http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/edicion/media/09Chapter5.pdf, p.93

[3] Domingo, David and Heinonen, Ari, Webblogs and Journalism; A typology to explore the blurring boundaries, Nordicom Review 30 (2009) 1, pp. 201-216

[4] Luders, Marika, Becoming more like friends, Nordicom Review 30 (2009) 1, pp. 201-216

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