Tuesday, December 1, 2009

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.


  1. I understand your point, but I also comprehend Dutta's argument of why the participatory approach is not entirely effective. He mentions that the agenda is already set by the Western world or the elites of their country and simply imposed on the marginalized population and that even if they could participate in dialogues to develop E-E programs, the lack of information they have access to and can receive is very high. But you do make an important point when you say there are many ICTs and that they can be used for the effective diffusion of information, and thus increase grassroots participation.

  2. I agree with both of you and see the diffusion of information as a key component of development communication on the whole. While the sub-altern population has been largely neglected, perhaps a focused effort on putting pressure on the higher entities to include a more comprehensive range of participants is the answer. Whether or not Dutta feels that this is possible, I am not sure, but I think his focus would be on making a movement to have their voices heard.

  3. Good point, Nick. Dutta does fail to mention the power strategic alliances can have on development and E-E, specifically. It is my guess, however, that Dutta would further claim that such alliances would further supress subaltern voices through the encouragement of dominant organizations and their subsiquent discourses. I, on the other hand, agree with you and feel that if progress is to be made in the third world, subaltern participants must network to voice their opinions.