chapter  3
Media, empowerment, and agency
The promises of participatory communication
WithVokes Richard
Pages 45

The Chiapas Media Project is one of the best-known examples of an indigenous media movement to become engaged with participatory communication strategies and approaches. In 1992, John Friedmann saw an attempt to dissolve pre-existing hierarchies – between the genders, between the generations, and between other social categories – as the main dynamic of what he termed 'the empowerment framework', and within which he placed participatory communication. Participatory methods aimed to ensure that ordinary people who were engaged in development projects did indeed have some agency over how those projects were carried out. Although the environmental critique began as a diffuse set of arguments, it soon came to have a major impact upon international development practice. By the early 1980s, the three major critiques of dependency, feminism, and environmentalism had had such a profound impact that a number of scholars and other commentators were beginning to declare that the theories and practices of modernization were simply no longer 'fit for purpose'.