TV Maxabomba, a popular video project in Brazil is one of the
examples cited by Dragon (2001). This project started in 1986 with
the help of the “Centro de Criação da Imagem
Popular” (Popular Image Creation Center), as an experimental
video laboratory working in Nova Iguaçu, in the Baixada Fluminense
district of Rio de Janeiro. From the start, TV Maxabomba asks the
house associations (associação de moradores) about
their needs and since then, the crew goes almost daily into the
neighborhoods to record short videos of residents expressing their
opinion on different topics, for example condom usage or sanitation.
The videos are divided into fifteen minutes segments, with a discussion
after each exhibition (Vicki, 1998; Dragon, 2001). An important
component of this project is the use of the mini telenovelas to
address issues and stir up discussion. According to Vicki (1998):
By managing the tension between representing both an entertainment
medium and a political motivator, TV Maxambomba's videos negotiate
two different notions of the word "popular" in popular
culture. The group's ability to negotiate different meanings of
the popular has led to the survival of a medium that is at one time
pleasurable and political to its viewers. Perhaps as a result, TV
Maxambomba has survived where other video projects have failed.
Certainly, both participants and sponsors for the project are attracted
by TV Maxambomba's ingenuity at avoiding partisanship while stirring
a rousing democratic dialogue in working-class towns.
Some of the subjects discussed at the community level are the creation
of a small factory to help unemployed youth, a health center built
by the community, a national women’s meeting, among others.
As the main tasks of development communication, the participatory
model encourages participation, stimulates critical thinking, and
stresses process, rather than specific outcomes associated with
the dominant paradigm of modernization and progress (Altafin, 1991).
The participatory paradigm is criticized for not acknowledging that
in some cases, such as epidemics, quick, top down government intervention
is not only necessary but also effective.
Another point of contention for this theory is that it does not
clarify what participation involves. When planning a project, some
decisions are made a priori, outside of the community. The role
of the local residents would be to implement and evaluate the project.
However, this participation is not linked to the conception of the
project, limiting the power of the community to act on already set
decisions (McKee, 1992).