Sunday, November 29, 2009

EE: An effective subaltern communication tool?

Dutta's critical review of entertainment education (EE) brought up good points, albeit through a very narrow and extreme viewpoint. Participation and input by subaltern groups is an important component of effective communication development but is also difficult to create and evaluate. Sometimes there are issues EE addresses that subaltern groups don't see as problems as Dutta pointed out with ideas of having large families. However, there are cultural perspectives about women's roles and discrimination against them that rural communities may not see as wrong and in instances such as that, there is a need for outside intervention and communication.

I also didn't quite agree with Dutta that moving from the goal of population control (a measurable goal) to access and inequality (very abstract) was a good recommendation. I think that listening to people and hearing their concerns first hand is extremely important but when creating development programs it is better to judge the effectiveness of a program with measurable goals compared with abstract notions of inequality.

The biggest question I had when reading Dutta's argument was what is the goal of EE in general? Is something based off of entertainment which involves expensive items like a television really a viable technique to reach the poorest of the poor? Perhaps there are other techniques more suitable for working with subaltern groups on health education than through entertainment. Dutta still highlights relevant points about the goal of aid agencies and the importance of participant input but perhaps the notion of EE as an effective tool to impact subaltern groups is misguided.


  1. I was actually very interested in this set of readings because I have experienced and have a passion for EE. I believe it is an excellent way of reaching and teaching individuals that would have otherwise become a statistic, so to speak. I am definitely basing my comment on personal experienes within Black America. For instance, a friend of mine in my cohort at Howard is also high school teacher in DCPS at Friendship Charter, which has currently taken over the restructuring of Anacostia High. FYI...Anacostia is considered one of the worst schools within DCPS due to its crime and low graduation rates. Well, she incorporates EE into her lectures and life skills. Many of her edutainment practices incorporate things that the students can relate to such as learning a particular subject via raps. For instance, vocabulary words may become a rap, which allows students to easily remember the words and their definitions. From my understanding, the students are positively receptive to this format. I said all of that to say that many Black students in SE DC are already counted out. Therefore, EE provides them that "second chance." EE lowers the learning curve for them; it allows them to confidently participate in the classroom setting.

    --For the longest, I have been trying to figure out how I could incorporate my passion for media entertainment, mass communications, and the youth into some form of an educational event/affair/workshop/ the EE article created my "aha! moment." Edutainment is a great place for me to start.--sidebar

    So..."Is something based off of entertainment which involves expensive items like a television really a viable technique to reach the poorest of the poor"---YES :)

  2. I agree with both of you that basic communication skills of speaking and listening are absolutely vital to creating development programs that are effective for social change. While I agree that entertainment education campaigns can lead to great change, I do think it is important to not overlook the notion of locating agency within the population that is being educated as Dutta suggests. Sometimes Western intentions are set so high on creating positive social change that they forget or misunderstand the root of the problem for which the education program is needed.