Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Importance of Unity in Approaching E-E Campaigns

The article by Dutta brings to mind many of the theories that we have covered in class regarding the flow of information and the tendency for western ideas to be promulgated to the developing world. I enjoy that Dutta takes offense to the current state of affairs regarding the EE campaigns but am surprised by the powerful and accusatory tone that he takes through the article.

I think that Dutta's assertion really comes down to the importance of E-E campaigners to be brought into the sub-altern world in order to gain a greater understanding and perspective of what they are charged with helping. By giving the sub-altern community an opportunity to participate (a word Dutta clearly emphasizes), they are then empowered to be part of a change and "buy-in" based on the notion that they created a stake in the result. The example of 35% of Indians not viewing overpopulation as a problem gives more credence to the seemingly obvious notion that the under-represented poor must have a stake in the solution.

While he provides many insightful comments and is generally on the right track in proposing a re-evaluation of value systems and objectives, Dutta paints an accusatory picture of USAID and other international aid organizations. While there may certainly be some issues with some past action, there have also been enormous successes that can be attributed to the work of such organizations. I do not think that blame can be based squarely on the shoulders of large international aid agencies but should be assumed by the community as a whole and set as a goal for working more closely together to accomplish a single, unifying objective.

Development Participation Anticipation

The writing of Mohan Jyoti Dutta offers a critical perspective on the aims and ideas that shape Entertainment Education campaigns (E-E). Although I agree that a dialogical process between underdeveloped communities and E-E planners is the most effective method for meeting the demands of subaltern voices, I find that Dutta underestimates the potential of the participatory approach in social change.

Dutta asserts that E-E, the primary form of health campaigns, has more greatly contributed to oppression of the ThirdWorld than its development. Often used to convey U.S. foreign policy, issues including international family planning reflect dominant western discourses to the contrary of subaltern voices. Rather than eliminating poverty by supporting local business production, Dutta claims that E-E only succeeds in securing viable socioeconomic environments for U.S. investment interests. Without participation from subaltern voices, E-E will continue to stress transnational capitalism.

Dutta, however, also recognizes the participatory approach to development communication as a false hope for subaltern voices. While Dutta states that the participatory approach fails to allow subaltern voices to set their own agenda for development, I believe that this method may promote grassroots participation. With the incorporation of different sectors of society in communication for development and social change, participatory ICTs are optimal for the encouragement of civil dialogue and bringing subaltern voices to the forefront of E-E campaigns.

Communication: Is it simple or complex?

Corman’s essay focuses on some of the constraints and deficiencies with the message influence model that is commonly used here in the U.S. He finds that a primary flaw with this model is that it is presumed that the receiver understands the message in the same manner as the sender and that communication will almost always be successful. Corman finds that this model fails to take into account the complexities of communication as a meaning making process. Meanings of messages cannot always be easily transferable and people often times interpret their own meaning to a message based on other non-related factors such as culture, history, education, and so forth. The author brings up a model he finds better suited to account for the true process of communication entitled the pragmatic complexity model. He encourages this model because it views communication as a relationship based on a simultaneous type of mutual interdependence where failure is to be expected and therefore viewed as the norm.

Dutta’s readings provided us with a negative stance towards entertainment education campaigns. He finds that they often times actually exclude the subaltern voice and promote transnational capitalism and western hegemony while causing even more poverty amongst subaltern populations by eradicating domestic forms of production. He argues that one of the constraints of the entertainment education campaigns is its focus on population control programs and states that by focusing in on only one single health issue entertainment education campaigns largely ignore other equally important health related issues. Although, I did find his piece to be a bit too harsh on USAID and its promotion of entertainment education campaigns, I agree that often times the subaltern voice can be ignored which I believe disregards the whole point of even having entertainment education campaigns in the first place.