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Common Ground

The theoretical framework proposed to anchor this research will be based in these two conflictive theories, social cognitive learning and dialogical communication (participatory communication). Even though differences exist between these two theoretical approaches, it is also possible to identify points of convergence.

Morris (2003) studied 44 projects of developmental communication by comparing their outcomes and analyzing the gaps and overlaps between the two approaches. She argues that even though many scholars establish diffusion and participatory models at opposite ends of the spectrum, they are not totally opposite. The diffusion model has expanded to incorporate participatory practices since its initial creation, and participatory processes have to involve some form of information transfer. By the same token, social learning theory, well used in the entertainment-education strategy and part of the dominant paradigm, intersects with important components of the dialogical pedagogy theory.

At the heart of this convergence is the concept of empowerment, defined by Bandura (1977) as the process through which an individual perceives that he or she controls their own situation. Freire and Bandura believed that reality is not fate. Both theorists share the understanding that one can actually intervene in the construct of a new reality. Through self-efficacy, people believe in their ability to exercise control over events that affect their lives (Bandura, 1995), which can be correlated to the notion of empowerment advocated by the dialogical theory. Empowerment and self-efficacy are both based in self-reflection. Bandura (1997) continues to explain his perception of empowerment:

Empowerment is not something bestowed through edict. It is gained through development of personal efficacy that enables people to take advantages of the opportunities and to remove environmental constraints guarded by those whose interests are served by them. Those who exercise authority and control do not go around voluntarily granting to others power over resources and entitlements in acts of beneficence. A share of benefits and control must be negotiated through concerted effort and often times through prolonged struggle.

Even though the concept of empowerment lacks a single definition, according to the participatory model it is also extended to the collective, to social and community empowerment (McLaren 1997). Empowerment can be related to “communities making decisions for themselves and acquiring knowledge”, as in the case of health issues (Waisbord, 2001). Collective efficacy, according to Bandura’s definition, relates to the common belief in the power to create desired effects by collective action (Bandura, 1997). Freire believes that Subjects are able to liberate themselves and transform reality through praxis; in other words, actions and reflection bring change in the social construct. Analyzing Bandura’s statement, one can infer that the struggle between oppressor and oppressed is conquered through a collective effort, which is similar to what Freire says.

It is evident that subscribers to these different theories disagree on the expected outcome of the strategy used; behaviorists expect a short-term impact, while participatory theorists believe in long-term policy and political changes. Behavior modification is the goal of the diffusion paradigm, while participatory interventions aim for social and policies change (Waisbord, 2001). Nevertheless, these theories are not completely divergent. It is not proposed here to assemble them together as if they were one, but to understand them in their essence, and to be able to find a common ground.



Table of Contents

Acknowledgements / Dedication - Abstract




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