Approaches to participatory methods of communication – as a means of both creating and expressing knowledge – are often more visual, expressive and non-dialogical than traditional textual outputs. As such, they have the power to complement analytical dimensions of research because of their ability to access and convey other forms of knowledge – ways of knowing which may be intutitive, tacit, embodied, artistic, symbolic, cultural or spiritual in nature.
Such knowledge can easily become ‘lost in translation’ when we try to synthesise or communicate findings through traditional research outputs alone. These forms of knowledge need to be accessed and represented in addition to analytical knowledge if pro-poor social change and greater uptake and impact of research findings are desired.
This project is a scoping study of the role and potential of participatory communication practices across a diverse spectrum of research programmes. Building on existing programmes of work with our partner organisations, the purpose of this project is to begin to find out how poor and marginalised groups have developed innovative communications strategies to directly challenge poverty and social exclusion.
The project is a starting point towards widening understanding among donors, policymakers, researchers and practitioners about creative and effective ways of embedding participatory communication strategies within research processes, so they can directly contribute to social and policy change. By developing an understanding of how participatory communication is used in research programmes and documenting lessons learned, other researchers will be able to draw from these experiences and use participatory communication in their own research process.