New Communication Theory Special Issue on Advocacy and Communication for Social Change

by Tobias Denskus on July 2, 2015 · 2 comments

in Comdev News,Staff articles

A recently published special issue of a major international communication journal features research from ComDev staff and partners. communication_theory
The Communication Theory special issue on Advocacy and Communication for Social Change features co-authored research by ComDev’s program coordinator Tobias Denskus as well as contributions by previous ComDev guest lecturers, including co-editor Karin Wilkins.
She writes in her introduction to the special issue:

These articles resonate with our call for theorizing the context of social change.
Conceptualizing social change intervention as an inherently political strategy means reflecting on our own academic work as well as program implementation and assessment.
The politics of promotion and funding structure the choices scholars make, as does the risk of legal action. One of the key concerns with contemporary development practice is an emerging privatization of this field designed to promote the public good: The trend toward privatization in global development serves neoliberal agendas of transnational elites in ways that limit the possibilities for effective and moral strategies.
But it would be a mistake to single out development as an industry without also recognizing how privatization may also be attempting to restrict academic discourse.

The special issues covers a broad range of case study and approaches, including contributions by Stuart Davis on Citizens’ media in the favelas, Mohan Dutta on Decolonizing communication for change, Rico Lie & Jan Servaes on Disciplines in the Field of Communication for Development and Social Change, James Pamment on Development communication and Public Diplomacy, Rachel Stohr on transnational feminism and women’s environment and development organizations and Silvio Waisbord on Three Challenges for Communication and Global Social Change.

The special issue also features an article by Tobias Denskus and Daniel Esser (American University) on TED Talks on International Development: Trans-Hegemonic Promise and Ritualistic Constraints which is probably the first research article that specifically analyzes TED talks on international development topics.

They conclude in their article that

TED talks (…) remain focused on dissemination, not activism; they spread ideas, disconnected with social change. While we must not discard the possibility that their audiences contain members who eventually leverage insights gained from either participating or watching these talks for social change, TED talks themselves do not possess this catalytic function as did, for instance, Twitter in the context of the Arab revolution. Linking new media such as TED talks to communication theories helps us put claims about supposedly ground-breaking potential of these media for social change into historical and critical perspective. Our findings indicate that structural issues undergirding current media discourses, from power to mediatization and ritual dynamics, are equally present in emergent forms of digital media.

If you do not have access to Communication Theory and require an article for your research or teaching you should contact ComDev or leave a comment and we will try to work out access issues.


Zara Sargsyan July 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

How can we get access to the mentioned articles (especially to Wilkins and the one on TED) of the special issue?

Tobias Denskus July 16, 2015 at 8:37 am

Hi Zara,
You should still have library access through your university ID and Communication Theory is part of our online collection. If you experience any difficulties just drop me a message. Tobias on behalf of the ComDev team

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