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W9 – Researching Development


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W9 – Researching Development

  1. 1. W9 – SGM223 – Communications, Culture and Development – “Researching Development” Dr. Carolina Matos Lecturer in Media and Communications Department of Sociology City University London
  2. 2. Required reading • 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 • Additional: • 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. •
  3. 3. Key themes • Research and practice in development • Programme evaluation • International Development Communications: Proposing a Future Research Agenda • I.e. Privatization of public programmes, social movements and new technologies • 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
  4. 4. “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)
  5. 5. “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….; Oakley, 1991).
  6. 6. 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 coordination problems.” • 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.
  7. 7. 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 supervision • 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)
  8. 8. Programme evaluation research (in Coetzee et al, 2011) • “Programme evaluation is that field of applied social science which utilizes the whole range of social science methods in assessing or evaluating social intervention programmes.” • 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 cost
  9. 9. 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 questions: • Is the programme conceptualized and designed in such a way that it addresses the real needs of the intended beneficiaries (the target group)? • 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 manner?
  10. 10. Research agenda in development communications: future prospects
  11. 11. 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 interventions. • Two central concerns: • Understanding development as discourse • Attention to discourses about communication for development, thus examining the underlying assumptions of institutional texts, speech and practice • Institutional intervention for social change • “Development institutions have the capacity to select and frame social conditions as problematic, and legitimize particular approaches toward their resolution.”
  12. 12. International Development Communication: Proposing a Research Agenda (in Wilkins, 2003) • Four key issues: • The privatization of programmes designed to promote the public good • The role of new technologies in strategic social change • The efforts of social movements in resisting dominant actors and agencies • The emergence of sustainability as an organizing metaphor for development • Other issues: gender, participatory strategies and global-local dynamics. • Globalization of development policies: • Movement towards market-based rather than state-managed strategies • State social concerns are subordinated to global institutional interests (i.e. World Bank). (McMichael, 1996).
  13. 13. 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, 1963). • This trend corresponds with shifts toward de-regulation and privatization • 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)
  14. 14. 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” parameters. • 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)
  15. 15. New technologies • 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).
  16. 16. 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).
  17. 17. United Nations Development Programme • (
  18. 18. Social movements • 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 support…..”
  19. 19. Transnational social movements and NGOs (in Wilkins, 2003) • Similarly to communication technologies and development programmes, social movements are beginning to transcend national boundaries • 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 rights. • Proposal: • 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.
  20. 20. Sustainability • Sustainability can include the focus on environmental protection as well as a more inclusive concern with social, political, economic and human resource. • 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 environment. • Problems: Discourse on the topic has moved away from an understanding of “nature” to a managerial approach to controlling the “environment.”
  21. 21. Lerner’s Toward a Communication Theory of Modernization 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 Aspiration 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.
  22. 22. 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 modernization…..”
  23. 23. 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 communication space”: 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).
  24. 24. 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 dependency.
  25. 25. Schiller’s The Appearance of National Communications Policies (1975) 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.
  26. 26. Role of transnational corporations in “3rd World” countries • “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)
  27. 27. DFIDL: International aid and development • Improving the lives of girls and women in the world‟s poorest countries • ( • 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
  28. 28. 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 emphasis? Is development studies done best by a combination of “discourse” and “practice”? 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 development? Is it through a focus in the role of new technologies, or how social movements and NGOS use media appropriately?
  29. 29. Seminar activities Seminar divided into three parts: • I. Examine Wilkins‟ research agenda for a new era. What role can social movements have, new technologies and participatory communications? • 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. • Modernization Post-colonialism • Social Marketing Diffusion of innovations • Dependency Women and Empowerment • Participatory Communications Cultural Imperialism • Cultural Hybridity Dominant and Contra-Flows
  30. 30. Group presentations for weeks 10 and 11 • 1) For the development programme, groups should consider the following questions: • 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 development programme. • 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 following: • 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?