Grass Root Communication for Social Change : A Case Study of the Communication Work in a Namibian NGO

University essay from Växjö universitet/Institutionen för samhällsvetenskap

Author: Åsa Olsson; [2007]

Keywords: Communication for Development;

Abstract: ABSTRACT The principal objective of this inductive study is to map the communication methods that are being used in the organization Sister Namibia. I intend to find communication mechanisms that together can constitute a communication framework. The main questions at issue are; How is the organization working from a communication perspective? What methods and channels are central for their external communication work? What messages are they trying to convey to the target group? The questions will generate in analyses and deeper understandings of communication processes in a NGO. The conceptual approach for the study is Development Communication, which can be seen as the integration of strategic communication in development projects. Communication for Social Change is an approach of development communication, where focus lays on an elaborated social change agenda rather than the agenda of strategic communication. The study has a qualitative approach and it is built up as an inductive case study with the NGO Sister Namibia in focus. Sister Namibia is a non governmental women organization that fights for women’s rights in the Namibian society. I have found several factors in their communication work that together can create a communication framework. Dialogue is vital in their communication work and it can be seen as a prerequisite for social change. Another central aspect of their communication framework is networking. Sister Namibia can be seen as a piece of puzzle in a bigger network that allows the organization to reach a wider audience and it is a strategy for how they can gain power, grow and establish deeper in the society. The diversity among women makes it necessary with a communication framework that provides flexibility, which includes different communication methods and channels depending on the target group. A holistic approach in the communication framework is important; the communication have to be focused on change at individual, societal and governmental levels. Furthermore, I have observed that to be able to understand processes of communication it is vital to look at the whole social context. In this social context knowledge, power, and material & social needs have been found as central aspects. They are needs and factors that are gained and created by individuals and groups in societies, and can be seen as prerequisites for social change to appear. Finally, this study shows the importance of looking at communication not just as a tool for spreading information, but also as the goal of development. Through communication it is possible to create a social environment where private and public dialogue can take place. Keywords: Development communication, Communication for Social Change, NGO, Dialogue, Networking, Flexibility, Holistic approach.

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