Community Power and Participatory Decision-Making Essay

1215 Words 5 Pages
Critical theory appears unpopular probably because of its ideological bias as claimed by Pease, Form and Rytina (1970). Liebert and Imershein (1977) similarly assert that a common theoretical tendency in community research is a distinctly “political theme that tends to find the greatest efficacy and power, and indeed the most universal structure of power, to lie in a certain organized diversity, a pluralist state of subsystems within an integrated system of elites” (pp. 191-192).

The primary aim of critical theory, as James Bohman (2005) notes, is to thwart oppression. This theory was not only used by incorporating the best tools but more importantly, to critique what is happening within the research context. Since the community
…show more content…
As Quebral (cited in Drilon, 1998) states, “more promising for development communication is the ascendance in the social sciences of critical theory as an alternative to positivism in investigating the communication problems of society”. When applied in assessing communication activities, this theory looks at the emerging communicative practices that gave power to some groups while took it away from others (Littlejohn and Foss, 2008).

Critical theory is “concerned with how power, oppression, and privilege are the products of certain forms of communication throughout society” (Littlejohn and Foss, 2008, p. 45). Critical theory then defines power differently such that being freed from oppression and being aware of the ideologies that dominate the community may lead to empowerment towards society transformation through communication. Critical theory is more likely to lead to social transformation than traditional empirical approaches to development communication.

This theory’s epistemology argues that knowledge is advanced only when it serves to free people and communities from the influence of those more powerful than themselves.

‘Communicative freedom’, being one of the notions of this theory, refers to participation and freedom of expression. According to critical theory, participation, (Habermas, 1996, as cited in Bohman, 2005), is the need to pass decisions through agreement or disagreement of the participants in

Related Documents