Visualizing Participatory Development Communication in Social Change Processes: Challenging the Notion that Visual Research Methods are Inherently Participatory

Laura Simpson Reeves


Participatory development communication approaches increasingly use visual research methods with little critical reflection. This article challenges the implicit assumption across the community and international development sector that visual research methods are inherently participatory. I analyze a workshop held in Papua New Guinea that explored a visual multimethod approach in a participatory development context. In particular, I review the methods used in respect to the key participatory development communication principles of horizontal dialogue and local ownership. The findings show that visual research methods are not inherently participatory, but require reflection and conscious decision making by the facilitator(s) to ensure high levels of participation.


visual research methods, community development, international development, Papua New Guinea, participatory development communication

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