This article argues for communication for social change theory to be based on a theory of knowledge, a specific understanding of process that feeds into practice, a knowledge of structures, a specific understanding of context and flows of power. It highlights the example of the Right to Information Movement in India as an embodiment of meaningful practice that was in itself a response to the felt needs of people. It argues that the RTI movement provided opportunities to understand Voice as a practice and value through indigenous means, specifically through the mechanism of the Jan Sunwai (Public Hearings). It argues that when local people are involved in articulating ‘needs’, there will be scope for the sustainability of the practice of communication and social change and opportunities to theorise from such practice.
This article explores the role played by public sector software (PSS) in social change in India. Viewing public sector software as a public good, it explores its potential as well as the challenges that it faces in a context in which proprietoral software is an established and dominant force. Using both theory and examples, it argues that state investment in this public good makes infinite sense in the context of e-governance and commitments to access and affordable use of information resources for all its citizens. Based on the principles of Free Open Source Software (FOSS), PSS offers not only possibilities of access but also adaptation and use by a variety of ‘recursive publics’. Using the example of PSS in the Southern Indian state of Kerala, it offers insights into the practical benefits of software deployed for the common good.