Title: Strategic Communication Management for Development and Social Change: Governance, Sustainability and Participatory Perspectives in Africa

Editors: Dr Tsietsi Mmutle, School of Communication Studies, North-West University, South Africa; Dr Tshepang Molale, School of Communication Studies, North-West University, South Africa; Dr Olebogeng Selebi, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa; Dr Olanrewaju Olugbenga Akinola, Department of Mass Communication, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria.

Background

In a post-colonial landscape, governments from across the African continent are experiencing a myriad of disparate challenges related to development and social change (cf. Chambua, 1994; Raheem, Anamuah-Mensah & Dei, 2014). At the heart of these challenges, is the need to bring about development, rapid urbanisation, as well as the improvement in the quality of life for all citizens. However, several stumbling blocks stand in the way of this, namely:

·      Corruption

·      Challenges with management and sustainable use of natural resources

·      Conflict

·      The debt-crisis and underdevelopment

·      Contestation around legitimacy in the democratisation processes (including protests, violence and resistance, extremism, extreme poverty and famine)

·      Pandemics (i.e. Ebola, Malaria and Covid-19)

These issues have adversely affected the achievement of goals related to humanitarian upliftment, development and social change for all African nations. Consequently, citizen participation lies at the heart of these challenges when considering the question of sustainable governance and policy development for social change in an African context. To this end, various case studies exist where local citizens do not inform sustainable development programmes; while the promotion of bottom-up development and social change is largely replaced by top-down instrumental action approaches and hemispheric communication (cf. Williams, 2006; Molale, 2019; Mwesigwa, 2021). For example, in the context of South Africa’s citizen participation in local government’s Integrated Development Planning processes, Molale (2019) found that although community participation is hailed as the communicative blueprint for promoting inclusive development and social change for all, the problem lies with top-down and modernisation-pronged approaches employed by development managers instead of listening to the needs and expectations of local community members, who should be at the forefront of integrated development planning. Likewise from an East-African perspective, Mwesigwa’s (2021) recently discovered various practice-based and operational as well as socio-economic challenges, such as marginalisation of certain voices in the communities (i.e. women), the dominance and favour given to certain elites in communities during citizen participation processes, a lack of accountability and high levels of corruption as well as a conflict of interests; as stumbling blocks towards the enhancement of citizen participation in Uganda. While in West-Africa, the findings of Krawczyk & Sweet-Cushman (2017) affirm that high levels of citizen engagement and involvement in local politics has a direct correlation to and positively impacts good governance. The authors further identified that non-active participation in local politics is a determinant of corruption and may pose a risk of apathy as citizens often disengage in participatory processes if their views and perspectives around local development planning are not prioritised. 

As an attempt that further necessitated the need to expose the complementary nature of Strategic Communication Management (SCM) and Communication for Development and Social Change (cf. Waisbord, 2014) in the pursuit of sustainable solutions to governance problems and challenges in an African context; Mmutle (2018) developed a Strategic Communication Framework for Participatory Communication aimed at addressing inclusive citizenry engagement and public participation in governance and sustainability programmes. Although Strategic Communication is recognised as a deliberate and purposeful tool for good governance, its accentuated value in promoting development and social change is yet to be fully explored. This is especially because there are no clear, precise and sustainable communication-based strategies, and contextual approaches, aimed at addressing social change problems faced by governments across the African continent (cf. Otto & Fourie, 2016; Mwesigwa, 2021) from a multidisciplinary context.

The objective of this edited volume is to draw insights from scholars across the African continent in the fields of Strategic Communication Management as well as Communication for Development and Social Change by unravelling the complementary nature of scholarship between the two fields, through the lens of prevailing governance and sustainability challenges facing African countries, today.

In view of the above, scholars interested in African Development, Communication for Development and Social Change, as well as Strategic Communication are invited to submit proposal aimed at exploring different themes, including:

·      Communication for social change, Bottom-up Development and Social Movements in the local government sphere;

·      Strategic Communication in Governance, Planning and Policy reforms;

·      On the pragmatics of Hemispheric Communication and deepening underdevelopment in the local government context;

·      Strategic Management and Participatory Communication in Government programs;

·      The role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in achieving development objectives geared towards good governance in Africa;

·      Strategic Communication for Nation-Building and Social Cohesion

·      Public participation, protests and resistance from “below”;

·      Communicating Development and Humanitarian crises facing Africa;

·      Public Sector Health Communications and Development;

·      Top-down instrumental action versus Dialogic approaches to development and social change in Government Communication;

·      Media relations, accountability and contested Development narratives with the Fourth Estate;

·      Social Media and eParticipation in government development programs.

The above themes are by no means exhaustive.

Submission details:
Interested contributors are invited to submit an abstract of between 300-500 words and a short (not more than 300-words) biography to Dr Tsietsi Mmutle (mmutletj@gmail.com) and Dr Bright Molale (tmolaleb09@gmail.com) and cc 21804559@g.nwu.ac.za.

Deadline for abstracts is 14 June 2021. Notification of abstract acceptance or rejection is 02 July 2021. Deadline for submission of full chapters is 10 December 2021. Feedback from reviewers will be sent to authors by 28 February 2022 and revised manuscripts should be submitted by 1 April 2022. The book is earmarked for publication in Palgrave Macmillan and a tentative publication date is 30 June 2022. Please note that no payment from authors/APC will be required.

References

Chambua, S.E. 1994. The Development Debates & the Crisis of Development Theories: The Case of Tanzania with Special Emphasis on Peasants, State & Capital. In Himmelstrand, U., Kinyanjui, K., & Mburugu, E. eds. African Perspectives on Development: Controversies, Dilemmas & Openings. Dar es Salaam: Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 37-50.

Krawczyk, K & Sweet-Cushman, J. 2017. Understanding political participation in West Africa: the relationship between good governance and local citizen engagement. International review of Administrative Sciences, 83(1):136-155 doi.org/10.1177/0020852315619024.

Mmutle, TJ. 2018. Strategic Communication Management for Government and Sustainability: A Participatory Communication Perspective for Inclusive Citizenry Engagement. Pretoria: University of Pretoria. (Thesis- PhD).  

Molale, TB. 2019. Participatory communication in South African municipal government: Matlosana local municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) processes. Communicare, 38(1): 57-75.

Mwesigwa, D. 2021. Towards enhancing local citizen participation in Uganda. Dynamics of Politics and Democracy, 1(1): 15-28. DOI: 10.35912/DPD.v1i1.449.   

Raheem, K., Anamuah-Mensah, J., & Dei, G.J.S. 2014. Re-Thinking Development and Growth Theories for Africa: Issues in the 21st Century?. In Asabere-Ameyaw, A., Anamuah-Mensah, J., Dei, G.S., & Raheem, K. eds. Indigenist African Development and Related Issues: Towards a Transdisciplinary. Perspective. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Waisbord, S. 2014. The Strategic Politics of Participatory Communication. In Wilkins, K.G., Tufte, T., Obregon, R. eds. The Handbook of Development Communication and Social Change. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 147-167).