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Contentious Actions and Communication for Social Change: The Public Hearing (Jan Sunwai) as Process

Journal of Communication

Published online on


This article explores the relationship between ‘contentious actions’ and communication processes in communication for social change (CSC) theory. Beginning with an analysis of the contributions made by Charles Tilly to the understanding of the methods and repertoires of popular protest and E. P. Thompson's interpretation of the moral economy of protests, it explores the history of contentious action in India, before focusing on the empowerment potential of the ‘Public Hearing’ as contentious action, specifically in the context of the Right to Information Movement in India. It argues that contentious actions such as public hearings need to become a focus for study in CSC theory precisely because it contributes to the validation of Voice, and to individual and collective empowerment.