Home » Budget deliberation as communicative practice: The case of a rural municipality in the Philippines

Budget deliberation as communicative practice: The case of a rural municipality in the Philippines

ABSTRACT

This study explores how municipal council members communicate with each other during budget deliberations, and suggests ways in how they ought to communicate more effectively with each other. Guided by Grounded Practical Theory, the researcher has analysed the transcribed talks of the budget deliberations of a rural municipality in the Philippines from 2013 to 2016. Specifically, the researcher delves into three levels of budget deliberation as a communicative practice: (1) problem level or the dilemma that the municipal council members are presented within the conduct of the budget deliberations, (2) technical level or the “discourse moves” or strategies employed by the municipal council members to manage the dilemma and (3) philosophical level, which starts with “situated ideals” or the municipal council members’ belief as to how they “ought” to act in the communicative practice. Through the analysis of transcribed talks and semistructured interviews, the researcher has identified three problems that municipal council members encounter during budget deliberations: (1) technicalities of the budget process and documents, (2) lack of information and (3) politics. To address these problems, municipal council members employ communicative strategies that could facilitate comprehension and/or consensus, stall, or fast-track the budget deliberation, namely: (1) code switch, (2) referral and deferral, (3) establishment of openness, assertion of competence, and making a plea, (4) clarification and suggestion, (5) repetition, (6) show of empathy for constituents, (7) sarcasm, (8) redirection and restriction, (9) silence and (10) termination. Except for sarcasm and silence, these communicative strategies are also used to achieve the situated ideal of duty-centered budget deliberation that places importance on respect and continuous dialogue. The reconstruction of budget deliberation as a communicative practice shows that despite communicative problems, the municipal council members employ communicative strategies to help them accomplish their duties. The results also allow for the reflection on improvements to the budget deliberations and its implications on governance.

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