Community Radio as a Communication Medium for Participation? A Literature Review
Keywords:Media Development, Communication for Social Change, Participation, Community Radio
In the context of communication for social change, the participatory approach is seen as a paradigm shift to diffusionist concepts (del Valle, 2007; quoted in Marí Sáez, 2013, p. 556). Regarding this approach’s execution, community radio is considered substantial within the field of international media development. However, researchers criticize that the participation of communities is still limited in practice due to the interests of external actors (Jacobson, 2003, p. 98). Therefore, it is assumed that the diffusionist and participatory approaches are combined in the implementation of community radio (Backhaus, 2019, p. 138). Taking this into account, the literature review analyzes fourteen empirical case studies of community radio projects from the global south and explores how the communities’ participation is executed within the respective stations. The results of the review emphasize current findings concerning passive forms of participation: The stations include communities by considering their possible interests in the selection of topics. Further approaches are based on the integration of community members as protagonists of the programs or different options to give feedback to the radio stations. Regarding the dimensions of programming and management, communities only have limited access to decision-making processes through surveys or the establishment of councils. In the context of the theoretical concepts, the analysis supports current assumptions in the research of communication for social change that community radio is designed and used as a tool for communicating development goals. Therefore, participation is considered a goal that should be achieved through the dissemination of information. Thus, the results confirm that further research should question the normative concept of the participatory approach and also to what extent the ideas of extensive participation of communities in the context of community radio are feasible.
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