Key concepts, disciplines, and fields in communication for development and social change

Servaes, Jan; Lie, Rico


We first identify five clusters of concepts and practices that are currently actively circulating and determine the activities and approaches in the field of Communication for Sustainable Development and Social Change: (1) a normative cluster of concepts; (2) a cluster of concepts that sets an important context for communication activities for development; (3) a cluster of strategic and methodological concepts; (4) a cluster of concepts that relate to methods, techniques, and tools; and (5) a cluster of concepts that addresses the practices of advocacy, (participatory) monitoring and evaluation, and impact assessment. Then we examine sub-disciplines and fields and areas of aspects of Communication for Sustainable Development and Social Change. We make a distinction between non-thematic sub-disciplines, which cover a domain within communication science and thematic sub-disciplines, which cover a life science theme in the development sector. The thematic sub-disciplines are (a) health communication, (b) agricultural extension and rural communication, and (c) environmental communication (including climate change communication). The fields and areas that are discussed are (a) right to communicate; (b) education and learning; (c) innovation, science, and technology; (d) natural resource management; (e) food security; (f) poverty reduction; (g) peace and conflict; (h) children and youth, women, and senior citizens; and (i) tourism.