W9 – SGM223 – Communications,
Culture and Development –
Dr. Carolina Matos
Lecturer in Media and Communications
Department of Sociology
City University London
• Core reading:
• Guinn Wilkins, K. (2003) “International Development
Communication: Proposing a Research Agenda for a New Era” in
Mody, B. (2003) International & Development Communication: A
21st Century Perspective, London: Sage.
• Sumner, Andy and Tribe, Michael A. (2008) “How are research and
practice linked to development studies?” in International
Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and
Practice, London: Sage, 129-163
• Mouton, J. (2002). „Programme evaluation research‟ [Ch 35],
Prozesky, H. & J. Mouton (2002). „The participatory research
paradigm‟ [Ch 33], in J. Coetzee J. et al (Eds.) Development: Theory,
Policy and Practice, Oxford: Oxford UP, pp 569-584.
• Research and practice in development
• Programme evaluation
• International Development Communications: Proposing a Future
• I.e. Privatization of public programmes, social movements and new
• Revision and further questions
• Modernization theory and the role of information in development
• Media imperialism
• National communication policies (regulation)
• Questions for further research
• Seminar activities
• Group presentations for weeks 10 and 11
“How are research and practice linked to development
studies?” (in Sumner and Tribe, 2008)
• “…It is not clear that there is any royal road to evaluation of
economic or social policies either. A variety of considerations that
call for attention are involved, and evaluations have to be done with
sensitivity to these concerns. Much of the debate on the alternative
approaches to evaluation relates to the priorities in deciding on what
should be at the core of our normative concern.” (Sen, 1999: 85)
“How are research and practice linked to development
studies?” (in Sumner and Tribe, 2008)
• Underlines how the need of innovatory methods for the management
of policy, of programme and project design, and of monitoring and
evaluation, has associated DS researchers with D practioners
• Many methods and techniques can be used, and no single approach to
evaluation studies can be recommended.
• Distinction between the “discourse” and “practice” tendencies:
• “The first emphasises intellectual discourses, with a concentration on
broad concepts of development within a long time perspective but
sometimes with limited practical application to current development
problems… (Apthorpe and Gasper, 1996; Escobar, 1995). The second
might be described as „empiricists‟, with a concentration on theory,
methods and techniques which can be applied….to increased
understanding of development problems….. (Chambers, 1994a….;
Effectiveness of programmes (in Sumner and Tribe, 2008)
• “Efforts to achieve a programme-based approach to government
development initiatives had not been very successful”.
• “Integrated Rural Development Projects, which attempted to link
together various aspects of rural communities (including, for
example, agricultural extension advice, agricultural credit, water
supply, health and medical services and education (Livingstone,
1979) into programme-type interventions, experienced considerable
• All three levels of development management were questioned: 1)
national development planning; 2) programme level interventions and
3) project-based management.
• Decentralization also experienced difficulties in many developing
countries, particularly from manpower deficiencies (numbers and
skills) and revenue generation constraints.
Benefits arising from the participatory approach* (in Sumner
and Tribe, 2008)
• Participatory projects costs the World Bank 10 per cent to 15 per cent
more, on average, than non-participatory projects in terms of staff
time spent during preparation and appraisal
• Participatory projects require more staff during the early stages of
• To be effective, beneficiary participation needs to be incorporated in
all stages of the project cycle
• Beneficiary participation was not found to be a significant factor in
determining the quality of macro-project design
• There are clear examples of participation in Bank-financed
operations leading to increased project effectiveness, increased
efficiency, strengthened capacity of community-level groups, and
empowerment of beneficiaries
• * Rietbergen-McCracken (1996: 3)
Programme evaluation research (in Coetzee et al,
• “Programme evaluation is that field of applied social science which utilizes
the whole range of social science methods in assessing or evaluating social
• Types of evaluation studies:
Analysis related to the conceptualization and design of interventions
Monitoring of programme implementation
Assessment of programme effectiveness and efficiency
First one focuses on the ways in which the programme is designed in such a
way that it addresses social needs. Not only must one show that the
programme produced the desired effects, but that this was done with the least
Programme evaluation (in Coetzee et al, 2011)
• Due to government and non-government interventions in the field of
development studies, “it has become equally important that everyone
who works in the field (project managers, development agents,
development researchers and evaluators) has a more informed view
of the basic principles of good evaluation research.”
• Programme evaluators address one or more of the following four
• Is the programme conceptualized and designed in such a way that it
addresses the real needs of the intended beneficiaries (the target
• Has the programme been (well) implemented (and managed)?
• Have the intended outcomes of the programme materialized?
• Were the programme outcomes obtained in the most cost-efficient
Research agenda in development communications:
International Development Communication: Proposing a
Research Agenda For the Future
• Wilkins (2003) argues that the field of development communication should
extend analysis to the structures and processes producing strategic
communication, as well as the messages of communicative texts.
• Development communication research may focus on the evaluation of
• Two central concerns:
• Understanding development as discourse
• Attention to discourses about communication for development, thus
examining the underlying assumptions of institutional texts, speech and
• Institutional intervention for social change
• “Development institutions have the capacity to select and frame social
conditions as problematic, and legitimize particular approaches toward their
International Development Communication: Proposing a
Research Agenda (in Wilkins, 2003)
• Four key issues:
• The privatization of programmes designed to promote the public
• The role of new technologies in strategic social change
• The efforts of social movements in resisting dominant actors and
• The emergence of sustainability as an organizing metaphor for
• Other issues: gender, participatory strategies and global-local
• Globalization of development policies:
• Movement towards market-based rather than state-managed
• State social concerns are subordinated to global institutional interests
(i.e. World Bank). (McMichael, 1996).
Privatization of public programmes
• „Marketization‟ of development for the future?:
• Historically, development was very much tied to the state, to national
government‟s interests in organizing social change initiatives
• “The Northern, Western approach that has dominated development
practice has been driven by economic concerns with market
behaviour and technological solutions (McMichael, 1996),
envisioning communication technologies as serving both commercial
and modernizing functions in national development” (Schramm,
• This trend corresponds with shifts toward de-regulation and
• I.e. Many US Agency for International Development (USAID)
programs foster this, working with private institutions. Education
programs for girls and women have included private partners, from
business to NGOs. (in Wilkins, 2003)
Commercialization of development interventions
• What are the problems with this?:
• “Micro-enterprise programs, designed to offer credit to collective
groups to facilitate small-scale entrepreneurial initiatives, become
closely aligned with commercial interests.”
• Projects are seen as successful when they attract corporate
sponsorship. Thus programmes that are supposed to be about
promoting social change operate within “commercially viable”
• Focus on short-term goals at the expense of long-term interests,
such as improving human rights or women‟s status.
• I.e. “Programs designed to improve health then become justified in
terms of their benefits to the global economy, rather than in terms of
human rights and dignity.”
• Argues that there is scope to explore the extent to which development
discourse legitimates global capitalism (in Wilkins, 2003)
• Facts and figures: Almost 97% of Internet host computers reside
within the 29 wealthy nations
• Role of ICTs in development – Computer technologies have become
more popular in development work. They are valued for their
instructive potential and can create the possibility for more
participatory dialogue on social issues
• Wider role for new technologies in development is dependent on
people having more access to the web
• “More equitable access would require investments in electrical and
telecommunication infrastructures, computer hardware, and domestic
economies, along with supporting appropriate regulation…”
• ICTs benefitting marginalised groups – “… strategies will need to
address capacities to produce relevant local content, to attain
computer literacy, and to ensure other social infrastructures, such as
adequate health services and employment opportunities (Mansell and
When, 1998; Mody, 1999 in Wilkins, 2003, 249).
New technologies and development
• Limits of the use of new technologies for social change:
• “The United Nations and WTO support the International Trade Centre
(ITC)….to market the local products and services of developing countries in
international arenas…..these projects tend to rely on computer technologies
to promote the transmission of information, rather than promote dialogue, as
advocated in participatory models, or promote resistance, as suggested in
social movement approaches (Wilkins and Waters, 2000).
• Author defends that future research needs to document the relationship
between the emphasis on computer technologies in development practices
and the trend toward commercialization in development discourse.
• Future research should also look into how new technologies can facilitate
the activities of social movement organizations (Escobar, 1995; Owen,
1998), labor unions (Drew, 1998) and other marginal groups (International
Development Research Centre, 1992).
United Nations Development Programme
• Need to focus on role of social movements in development
• “Initial development communication scholarship promoted a Western version
of modernization, focusing on the individual as the agent of social change
within a ….capitalist society” (Lerner, 1958; Schramm, 1963).
• Social change goes beyond “top down” and “bottom up” divisions:
• “When participatory approaches were conceptualized as an alternative to
dominant strategies for social change, it was hoped that communication
might be used to foster more horizontal and bottom-up development
approaches than had been previously initiated (Mody, 1991).”
• What is the role that social movements can have in development then?:
• “Social change is enacted by a collective group, rather than individuals, as
implied in many development campaigns in agriculture, health, population
and nutrition. Whereas this latter approach intends to influence individuals to
change their behaviours, social movements are more likely to attempt to
change policies or norms, through intermediary goals such as mobilizing
Transnational social movements and NGOs (in
• Similarly to communication technologies and development
programmes, social movements are beginning to transcend national
• Human rights organizations: from 90 in 1970 to 772 in 1990, and
the number of international organizations, such as Amnesty
International, has risen from 178 in 1909 to 4.620 in 1991
• Issues that they engage cross national borders and include global
capitalism, nuclear energy, environmental degradation, and women‟s
• Development communication scholars could focus more attention on
communication about and for social change initiated by social
movements. Future research could also examine how social
movements use media to promote social change.
• Sustainability can include the focus on environmental protection as well as
a more inclusive concern with social, political, economic and human
• Sustainable development achieved mainstream attention in 1987 through the
Brundtland report titled Our Common Future (UN World Commission on
Environment and Development)
• Issues addressed in the report included the “need to reduce population
growth, to revise agricultural methods, to reduce the loss of habitat…, to
create new energy sources, to halt pollution from industrial development, and
to understand the problem of urban growth.” (Peterson, 1997, 21)
• The 1992 Conference on Environment and Development culminated in the
Agenda 21 report - the need for wealthy countries to invest in poorer
nations, in sustainable development measures such as health, sanitation,
education and conservation, emphasising the global management of the
• Problems: Discourse on the topic has moved away from an understanding
of “nature” to a managerial approach to controlling the “environment.”
Lerner’s Toward a Communication Theory of
What are the main problems with developing societies?
“It is the continuing failure of many transitional societies to maintain the
balance of psychic supply and demand that underlies the news revolution
of rising frustrations.”
“The spread of frustration in areas developing less rapidly than their people
wish can be seen as the outcome of a deep imbalance between achievement
and aspiration. This situation arises when many people in a society want
far more than they can hope to get…”
Satisfaction = Achievement
Role of the mass media in social change:
Are a major instrument of change, as they are able to reach the minds and
hearts of the people in the transitional society.
Fejes’ Media imperialism: an assessment
Media imperialism is used in a “broad and general manner to describe the
processes by which modern communication media have operated to create,
maintain and expand systems of domination and dependence on a world
scale” (Fejes, 1981, 281).
Modernization versus dependency perspectives:
“Whereas earlier models viewed modern communications media as a „tool‟
for development, the media imperialism approach viewed the media,
situated as they were in a transnational context, as an obstacle to meaningful
and well balanced socio-economic progress….the growth of the media
imperialism approach is one reflection of the general critical assessment and
rejection by many Third World countries of Western models of
Definitions of media imperialism (Boyd-Barrett, 1977)
• The concept of media imperialism was developed within a broader
analysis of cultural imperialism and dependency
• “Schiller‟s model understood the US media imperialism in terms of its
function of selling media-related US hardware and software, promoting
an image of the US and of the world that was favourable to American
interests…” (1998, 158).
• Starting point was the predominance of Hollywood products in the UK
cinema and the popularity of US soaps in British TV.
Imperialism as a process which has to do with the “colonization of
Worried about the necessity for a focus on the media industries: “only by
getting inside the black box of meaningful production could we generate
theory that was adequate for the task.” (1998, 165).
Straubhaar’s Beyond media imperialism
• Studies (Beltran, 1978; Nordenstreng and Varis, 1973) perceived a
one-way flow of television from the First World to the rest
• Straubhaar proposed the concept of asymmetrical
interdependence, where countries find themselves unequal, but
possess degrees of power in politics, economics and culture
• World’s media versus the development of increasingly
independent cultural industries
• Audiences make an active choice and pick and chose between
international, regional and local programming, favouring the latter
two based on a search for cultural relevance and proximity.
• Cultural dependence – builds on dependency theory, which looks
at the ideological role of the media as part of the cultural
superstructure that results from the economic relations of
Schiller’s The Appearance of National Communications
Communications as an arena of struggle for nation-states:
Why are countries seeking to formulate communication policies?
“The existing pattern of unequal and unilateral information flows and the
discoveries in communication technology are specifically identifiable factors
that partly explain the increasing efforts in many countries to formulate
national communication policies.” (89)
* Satellites have been organised into a global system serving the objectives
of American equipment producers, electronics corporations, the military
establishment and general advertising.
“..the emergence of national communications policies are the reflection of
generally still-unresolved battles between contradictory interests and
demands in the cultural-informational sector.” (82)
• Unesco‟s Advisory Panel on Communication Research in 1972
recommended the creation of national communication policies.
Role of transnational corporations in “3rd World”
• “The penetration of Third World countries by multinational
corporations, the political objectives and foreign aid policies of
developed countries, the subordinate position of Third World countries
in the international markets and credit systems, all are seen as aspects
of the dependency phenomenon”.
Role of extra-national forces that support underdevelopment:
“The condition of dependency involves the dynamic relationship
between internal factors such as a nation’s class structure and history and
external factors such as transnational corporations, international financial
institutions and so on.” (284)
“…a major focus of the media imperialism approach has been the role of
transnational corporations or media interests in shaping communications
between developed and Third World countries.” (286)
DFIDL: International aid and development
• Improving the lives of girls and women in the world‟s poorest
• Support for girls and women is based on basic human rights
• Case Studies:
• New livelihoods bring hope for women in Somalia
• Ending violence and transforming women‟s lives
• Ending violence against women in Nepal
• A time for change: ending female genital mutilation
• Called to be a midwife in northern Nigeria
• Helping girls get an education
Questions for thought and research aims
What is the best approach to development communication studies?
What areas of research should receive more focus in the future?
How can we evaluate development programmes better?
Should cost efficiency and commercial sponsorship receive less
Is development studies done best by a combination of “discourse”
What are some important areas for future research?
Has the “impasse” in development studies been overcome?
How can communications have a better and more efficient role in
Is it through a focus in the role of new technologies, or how social
movements and NGOS use media appropriately?
Seminar divided into three parts:
• I. Examine Wilkins‟ research agenda for a new era. What role can
social movements have, new technologies and participatory
• II. Evaluate a development campaign programme. How was the
design conducted? Was its implementation successful? What changed
because of the programme?
III. Revision session – Select from one of the theories and highlight
their key strengths and limitations.
• Social Marketing
Diffusion of innovations
Women and Empowerment
• Participatory Communications
• Cultural Hybridity
Dominant and Contra-Flows
Group presentations for weeks 10 and 11
• 1) For the development programme, groups should consider the following
• What is interesting and special about the programme, and what is the
background to it?
• For whom is this issue most significant to?
• How will an investigation of this contribute to existing understandings of
• other development programmes?
• Name a theoretical framework which might be relevant for explaining this
• How does this theoretical framework explain the issue at stake?
• 2) For those groups who prefer to select a particular issue in
communications, culture and development, you should consider the
• Assess the theoretical frameworks of the topic chosen by examining some
of the work of a selected group of key authors in the field.
• How does the investigation of the issue by the author (s) in the field
contribute to existing knowledge?
• How have understandings been advanced since?
• Which theoretical frameworks are the most appropriate and why?