This article makes a case for using participatory communication in research. It introduces participatory communication as a citizen-led approach to both creating and expressing knowledge: within research this means that researchers are not simply responsible for generating information and communicating about it, neither are they acting alone. From this perspective the emphasis of participatory communication is on communicating rather than extracting or delivering information. Participatory methods can communicate research findings in new ways and add depth and meaning to articulations of knowledge. This knowledge can easily get ‘lost in translation’ when findings are synthesised or communicated through conventional research outputs alone.
This user guide on participatory communication aims to answer the following questions: What do we mean when we say participatory communications? What are the practical implications of working with participatory communication strategies in development and social change processes? What practical experiences document that participatory communication adds value to a development project of programme?
Many communication practitioners and development workers face obstacles and challenges in their practical work. A participatory communication strategy offers a very specific perspective on how to articulate social processes, decision-making processes and any change process for that matter. Participatory approaches are nothing new. At a time when institutions, both governmental and nongovernmental, increasingly seek participatory approaches in their development initiative, this guide provides perspective, tools and experiences on how to implement participatory communications strategies.