Constituting participation as cooptation: Interrogating neoliberal health policies

TitleConstituting participation as cooptation: Interrogating neoliberal health policies
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Dutta, M. J.
Affiliation (1st Author)National University of Singapore
Section or WGParticipatory Communication Research Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodePCRT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)PCRT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleNew advances in participatory communication research theory
Submission ID7116

In the paper, I examine the ways in which the language of participation has emerged on the landscape of global health communication as an instrument for exerting the power and control of transnational hegemony. Through a grounded theory analysis of contemporary health policies articulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations (UN), I attend to the paradoxes in the framing of grassroots participation as an emancipatory communication strategy that empowers local communities. Participation is articulated in the language of freedom and liberty, where the freedom of the market translates into notions of individualized and community-based liberty, simultaneously obfuscating the vast inequities that are reflected in and reproduced by global market economies. Articulations of individualized and community agency from the global South are utilized to align with notions of entrepreneurship, simultaneously minimizing state-based public health programs and infrastructures. The rhetoric of community empowerment works out to support top-down expert-driven health programs driven by the ideology of trickle-down economics, imposed on national economies by international financial institutions. What are the possibilities imagined by participation when the objectives, strategies, and tactics of participatory projects are framed within the broader architecture of structural adjustment programs, trade liberalization, minimization of tariffs, and minimization of state-led public health infrastructures? The analysis depicts the ways in which forms and processes of participatory communication are determined by market logics, and problematizes the framework of participatory communication in the backdrop of global inequalities.

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