What is ‘participatory communication’? – a living webpage with ongoing updates and new resources

participatory communication:

Communication is, by definition, participatory. It is a two-way process. So this term refers to the full involvement of participants in communication processes and includes giving those individuals access to communication channels and enabling them to participate freely and equally in dialogue and debate.

(as defined by Communication Initiative)

February 2016 —

Participatory Methods website – provides resources to generate ideas and action for inclusive development and social change.  Subscribe to website posts.

Worthwhile blog post to check out:
Participatory Video and the Most Significant Change M&E Method (click through to pdf)

Also on Participatory Video:
— Building Peace through Social Change Communication: Participatory Video in Conflict-affected Communities
— How it works – Halfway through the M&E cycle, stories of Most Signficant Change

Not specifically participatory communication, but relevant:

Useful blog: Social Media 4 Good…practical advice on how to improve communications in international development with social media.

Related tweets: twitter.com/timolue

From 2002, but still several useful chapters in this UNESCO / Jan Servaes publication, including Approaches to Development Communication, including An Overview of Participatory Processes and Experiences

International Association for Public Participation

For thought… Are International Aid and Community Participation Inevitably at Odds? by Silvio Waisbord … from the Communication for Social Change Consortium.

Research… the  Participation Research Cluster at the UK’s Institute for Development Studies.   Sign up for e-alerts or subscribe to blog posts.

October 2010 update —

Good resource, & free download: Champions of Participation Report [Institute of Development Studies (UK)]
An international project to share learning among Champions of Participation in local government across 15 countries (see red download button in right column).

Plus two other new finds:

September 2010 update —

A few interesting essays/commentaries on participatory communication, including Participatory Communication: The New Paradigm?, plus  participatory communication in development, & participatory communication with health communication.

July 2010 update —

Free download, Participatory Communication: A Practical Guide – by two communication for development leaders, Thomas Tufte and Paolo Mefalopulos

May 12 2010  update

Some recent comments on  participatory communication by leading ‘communication for social change’ practitioner Alfonso Gumicio-Dagron.  In a May 2010 post to the Pelican Initiative listserve, he makes a distinction between initiatives that say they are participatory, and:

“real participatory communication for social change – where voices|people are not just informants, but where they have the capability or “agency” (A. Sen) to strengthen their own communication processes to participate in the decision making instances, which too often are vertical and far away of their reach”

‘Participatory’ is popping up everywhere.  It’s a buzzword in government, it’s a trend in international development funding, and its development seems to parallel devolving media and information power into the hands of citizens.  I say ‘trend’, but this is one trend that I think may not pass on by.  I think it could stick around.

I think this increased attention is an incredibly good thing.  Witnessing ‘participatory’ initiatives building in momentum is remarkable.

Here are a few of the ways I see ‘participatory’ changing things.  If these kinds of shifts are possible…. what else could be possible?


More on participatory communication can also be found at this site.

The May 29 post on this blog includes some new open-access research and stories from an anthology that has previously been a bit pricey in print.   It includes some worthwhile chapters related to participatory communication – some more dry and theoretical, but also quite a few really interesting case studies from different parts of the world.

This page is an ongoing project, and will be updated whenever I come across inspiring or eyebrow-raising participatory initiatives.

Aware of any not mentioned here?  Let me know!


  1. The link to the following “Free download, Participatory Communication: A Practical Guide – by two communication for development leaders, Thomas Tufte and Paolo Mefalopulos” is not working. Could it be linked to an issue with cookies? Thanx, Gin

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