The Perception of Community Radio as Public Sphere and its Potential Impact on Political Action: Lessons from Tanzania

Abstract: 

This study takes initial look at the promise of community radio as a public
sphere. Given the interest that community radio has generated in the
communication for development (C4d) arena, particularly its portrayal as a tool
for democracy and good governance, the study attempts to ascertain whether the
model through its flagship genre – political talk-back program can enact political
participation or engender political efficacy within the African context. Data for
the study came from a field research conducted in the United Republic of
Tanzania. The study combines a survey with focus group and in-depth
interviews. Relationships between engagement with community radio, political
participation and interest, and political efficacy were examined, as well as its
association with individual’s level of interpersonal discussion of local issues. A
key finding shows that involvement with political talk programs on community
radio can promote political participation and interest. Similarly, the result
reveals an association between participation on talk program and political
efficacy. These results are encouraging in that they point to community radio as
serving useful democratic purpose in empowering citizens by giving voice to
those considered “marginalized”, and at the same time fulfilling a major role of
providing valued information at the local levels. As the foundation of public
sphere, the stations seem to encourage active citizen participation and a healthy
diversity of opinion. Certainly, this form of communication is needed for the
occurrence of sustainable democratic development.

Page Numbers: 
pp.22- 43
Other information: 
To cite this article: Bello, A.K & Wilkinson, K. (2017). The Perception of Community Radio as Public Sphere and its Potential Impact on Political Action: Lessons from Tanzania. Journal of Development and Communication Studies, 5(1): 22- 43. https://dx.doi.org/10.4314/jdcs.v5i1.2

 

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