Facing Violence and Conflict with Communication: Possibilities and limitations of storytelling and entertainment-education

Thomas Tufte

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Abstract

In this essay the focus is around the material conditions of poverty, anxiety, social instability and insecurity faced by many around the globe. I articulate a communication theory and practical model that can address the aggression and desperation, which are embedded in violent practices and conflicts. My assertion is that many communicative disconnects lie in between the constructs of anxiety, insecurity and instability faced by many individuals in the world today and the inadequate way in which governments and other authorities communicate with their publics. My claim is that the communication practices commonly used often times are disempowering. I thus draw on Clemencia Rodriguez' proposal for a 'communication for peace' to make the point that communication is a poorly exploited resource in society. I thus describe a communication strategy that can empower individuals and counter the negative forces such as aggression, desperation, violence and conflicts.

Particularly, I explore the power of storytelling as a communicative strategy. I focus on the principles of empathy, dialogue and diversity inherent in the communication model that anchors storytelling methodology. I argue that storytelling forms such as entertainment-education, which can embody the above principles, can prove beneficial in building trust and awareness. I furthermore argue that they can facilitate social mobilisation and provide a space for the disempowered to articulate their voices. Thus, it is possible for storytelling forms to contribute positively to creating agency among the marginalised and thus develop supportive and nurturing social and communicative environments.

The potentially empowering qualities of storytelling through entertainment-education can contribute to building a positive sense of agency among ordinary citizens, and in so doing can develop supportive socio-communicative environments. I end by calling for an alternative communication paradigm, where principles of open access to the media, voice and visibility in the media, recognition of each others' differences, and room and time for dialogue and debate should guilde our communication practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDevelopment Communication in Directed Social Change : A Reappraisal of Theory and Practice
EditorsSrinivas Melkote
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherAMIC
Publication date2012
ISBN (Print)978-981-4136150
Publication statusPublished - 2012
SeriesAMIC Asian Communication series

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