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Prof Ronelle Burger
20 August 2019 @ 17:3018:00Department of Economics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences
Amplifying the voices of our communities
In this paper I provide an overview of the research conducted by my team and me over the past decade, which addresses the information asymmetries between public officials and the communities they serve. I reflect on the causes for increased social polarisation and breakdowns in information flows between groups and how this impedes government responsiveness to community members and citizens. I highlight the great responsibility, but also the tremendous difficulty, in telling the stories of others responsibly and effectively to ensure that they inform public debate and influence policy-making processes. Social media have been a false prophet, promising to amplify the voices of ordinary people and broaden social dialogue, while they have in fact further entrenched and deepened social divides. I discuss policies that could help to restore channels for broader public dialogue and more responsible, dynamic and representative social and public narratives.
Ronelle’s research examines why vulnerable communities receive such poor public services. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Development Studies and is an associate editor of Development Southern Africa. She is a research fellow at the Partnership for Economic Policy and the Centre for Research in Economic Development and International Trade at Nottingham University. She has consulted to national and provincial government and also multilateral donors such as UNICEF and the World Bank. Her work has been published in high-impact development and health journals such Lancet Global Health, Economic Development and Cultural Change and World Development.