The role of participatory development communication in social cohesion: The case of Masibumbane Listeners' Club
Keywords:Participatory development communication, Social cohesion, Radio, Radio listeners' clubs, Community radio, Social capital, Development communication
This article responds to the primary research question, “What contributions do radio listeners’ clubs make to social cohesion in local communities?”. It responds to this question by demonstrating the relationship between participatory development communication and social cohesion amongst Khwezi community radio station’s active listeners. The article draws on literature in conceptualising social cohesion and data from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with members of the Masibumbane listeners’ club, an informal association encompassing Khwezi’s active audience in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Through outlining the characteristics of social cohesion encompassing social capital, inclusion and shared values, the study shows the critical formation of participatory spaces of engagement from radio listenership expanding to reciprocal gains in social capital and inclusion for members. The data further depicts the value of socially cohesive groups in contributing to improved quality of life for community members, although at a small scale. However, it also highlights the challenges with maintaining cohesiveness and reaping more comprehensive societal benefits from micro-community social cohesion. Finally, the article recommends further examination of the value of social cohesion in improving community livelihoods beyond the micro-relational gains shown in the study.
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