DSA2016: Politics in Development
This panel addresses the politics of the interplay between 'doing good' and 'looking good' in international development. Specifically, it is concerned with better understanding initiatives that combine 'communication for development' (C4D) and 'communication about development' (CAD).
The role of media in international development has conventionally been understood in one of two distinct ways: either as a tool for delivering or facilitating positive social change amongst 'beneficiaries' (communication for development, or C4D) or as a means of informing or 'educating' audiences within donor countries about aid spending (communication about development, or CAD). However, recent studies suggest that donors are increasingly combining C4D and CAD in hybrid initiatives, with potentially undemocratic consequences. For example, Enghel (2014) suggests that donors perceive development-driven interventions involving communication as particularly suitable for making them 'look good' in the eyes of their own constituencies. Engel also calls for further research into such hybrid initiatives in order to determine the extent to which efforts aimed at 'looking good' are being prioritised at the expense of 'doing good'.
In this context we are seeking papers which address the politics of the interplay between 'doing good' (C4D) and 'looking good' (CAD), through the following questions:
• To what extent and in what forms do 'hybrid' C4D-CAD initiatives exist, at national, international and supranational scales?
• How are different conceptualisations of 'the media' and its effects understood within such hybrid initiatives?
• What institutional and political factors contribute to the apparent growth in projects aimed and 'looking good' and 'doing good'?
• What contradictions are there between the politics of 'doing good' and of 'looking good'?
• What are the potential consequences of the overlap of C4D and CAD for citizens' communication rights at both ends of the donor-recipient equation?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Institutional histories of C4D in UNICEF
UNICEF undertakes both C4D and CAD. A process of institutional history mapping with reveals how a range of complex and interacting factors shape the dynamic interplay between C4D and CAD, and how responsibilities and practices continue to be merged, dissected and shared.
UNICEF is considered one of the leading agencies in communication for development (C4D). It also invests in external communication, or 'communication about development' (CAD). As part of ongoing participatory action research with UNICEF we undertook an institutional history mapping process, examining the changing theories and practices of C4D. C4D work has been organised differently overtime, moving between being combined with (or situated under) the external communication section, being a stand-alone section, and being embedded within program areas (such as HIV/AIDS or Nutrition). The different configurations have had some lasting legacies, and at times blur the boundaries between 'looking good' and 'doing good'. Historical associations between C4D and CAD influence (mis)perceptions and practices. Structure and control over budgets can be a significant determinant, where being seen (T-shirts, banners, media campaigns) can present as a more visible 'result' than less tangible C4D alternatives. On the other hand, the current institutional 'mainstreaming of C4D' where C4D must support program sections (e.g. HIV, Nutrition, Education etc.), has shifted some 'C4D' initiatives to the external communication sections. This occurs where initiatives, such as those relating to voice and community media, are not specific to development themes but instead are more open and fluid. The institutional history mapping of C4D within UNICEF shows how a range of complex and interacting institutional factors, such as human resources and staffing, budgets, organisational structures, agendas, and external events, all shape the dynamic interplay between C4D and CAD, and how responsibilities and practices continue to be merged, dissected and shared.
The politics of 'doing good' against 'looking good' in development programs for and about women
.I address the issue of contradictions in looking vs doing good through a consideration of global development programs that support girls’ education, women’s participation in micro-entreprise, and gendered dynamics in population control and policies.
This panel allows us to engage in questions concerning the tensions between projected need to appear as actively engaged in solving development crises and interest in supporting development programs that attempt to solve them. I address this issue through a consideration of global development programs that support girls' education, women's participation in micro-entreprise, and gendered dynamics in population control and policies. Key to this discussion is a sense of accountability, with different senses of success as well as divergent approaches to implementation and public presentations of that implementation.
Good news for philanthropy? A study of the changing production processes at IRIN
This paper is concerned with how the motivation to ‘look good’ – or to generate symbolic capital – affects the news organizations’ ability to ‘do good’ – or focus on producing public service content.
This paper discusses the phenomena of philanthropist funding of international nonprofit journalism as an example of 'doing good' in order to 'look good'. Specifically, we are concerned with investigating how the motivation to 'look good' - or to generate symbolic capital - affects the news organizations' ability to 'do good' - or focus on producing public service content.
We investigate this issue by discussing how news production at IRIN, the world's largest and oldest humanitarian news agencies, changed when it moved from United Nations to foundation-funding, in January 2015. Drawing on 12 months of research involving content analysis, newsroom observations and semi-structured interviews, we will examine how the pursuit of symbolic capital shaped IRIN's managerial strategy, its external relationships and the form and framing of its actual news output.
Negotiating 'looking good' whilst 'doing good': Development research as public intellectual participation within an interstitial and transnational field
The production of knowledge for development has been highly contested. This paper reframes the field as an interstitial and transnational ‘space of social relationships’ between the media, politics, business and academia, and takes research contexts as negotiated sites of public intellectual participation.
Research is crucial in addressing complex global challenges around poverty and inequality. Yet, the production of knowledge for aid and development has been highly contested. Although historically produced within the walls of academia, knowledge is now created, shared and utilised by interconnected networks of diverse transnational actors. Although these broad changes have been well-documented, existing studies have primarily focused on distinct institutional sites of production, such as universities, think-tanks or government agencies. As such, there are largely discrete literatures on different development research contexts, each bound up with definitional challenges and contests over the form and function of knowledge. This paper intervenes in this setting by unpacking the presumed divisions between research contexts and considering the ways in which they are borne out in the discourse and practice of 'looking good' whilst 'doing good'. Drawing on mixed-methods fieldwork with 12 leading development organisations, it reframes international development as an interstitial and transnational 'space of social relationships' between the media, politics, business and academia, and takes research contexts not as self-contained units, but as negotiated sites of contemporary public intellectual participation. It reinterprets the apparently discrete contexts as an interconnected public social space of struggle where knowledge is created. Development researchers are reconceived as 'intellectuals' in order to consider how these actors position their public intellectual practices and products according to personal conceptions, institutional cultures, and wider social worlds, and particularly the media. These contributions provide new directions for the empirical study of the role of the media in development knowledge production.
Communicating to improve the use of development research: an imperative to do good or to look good?
"Making the most of development research", notably through improved communication, has become a major concern for development organizations. The presentation will examine how this concern responds to a double need—to have and to show an impact on development—and some of the associated stakes.
Between 1998 and 2002, several development organizations (such as the Overseas Development Institute and the International Development Research Centre) launched research programmes on the use of scientific research in so-called "developing" countries. These programmes led to various publications from 2000 onwards that emphasize the key role of communication in research utilization and define "best practices" in research communication for development.
While these best practices, and the works from which they stem, are overtly aimed at "bridging research and policy" (Court & Young, 2003) in developing countries, they also emerged precisely at a time when development agencies were urged to "demonstrate a significant positive impact on development" (Carden, 2004).
Thus, over the last years, "making the most of development research" (Carden, 2009) has infused development policy and practice as a response to a double need: to have an impact on development and to justify international aid to scientific research.
The presentation will show that this situation is affecting the politics of development communication. It will be established that the proposed collaboration-oriented communication practices kindle an interplay of competing conceptions of accountability in research and are structurally restrained by three main factors: a) the politics of development research production and utilization, b) the dominant conception of development and c) the limits of communication systems in developing countries.
The identification of these stakes is based on fieldwork and on an in-depth literature analysis conducted as part of a doctoral dissertation, which consisted in a long-term ethnographic study of a large-scale research project led in Senegal by an international governmental organization.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.