The Learning Paradigm and Development Communication

Keywords: development communication, the dominant paradigm, the participatory paradigm, the learning paradigm


Development communications for the past seventy years have followed two paradigms grounded in mass communication and marketing theories. The aim of development communication is changing behaviour, which is much closer to the definition of learning. Therefore, this article proposes a new learning paradigm and conceptual model for development communications that are more audience-centric than the current dominant paradigm and more operational and sustainable than the current participatory paradigm. Twelve in-depth interviews with four categories of development communication professionals were conducted to substantiate the model. The advertising experts, public relations professionals, campaign funders, and NGO executive managers concurred with the suggested conceptual model envisioning the potential for applying the learning paradigm's seven principles to support sustainable and inclusive development. The article briefly reviewed the literature to introduce the two current paradigms, their underlying theories, and their critiques before proposing the new Learning Paradigm and the Sustainable Learning Conceptual Model associated with it. The findings and discussion open a new potential stream of future research in development communication and beyond.

Author Biographies

Ahmed Taher, The American University in Cairo

Graduate Director and Assistant Professor


Lina Abd El Ghaffar, The World Bank, Egypt

External Affairs Officer

How to Cite
Taher, A., & El Ghaffar, L. (2023). The Learning Paradigm and Development Communication. The Journal of Development Communication, 34(1), 19-37. Retrieved from