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TV and social change in rural India, late 1990s (Johnson 2001)

March 24, 2010

Johnson, Kirk
Media and social change: the modernizing influences of television in rural India
Media Culture & Society 2001 23: 147-169

148 Data from two mountain villages in Western Maharashtra, 1995-6 and 2000

149-50 Previous researchers concluded that media have had little impact on social change in India. This no longer the case. TV is a unique medium: easily available programmes, broad scope, benign presence (Salzman 1993)

151 Around globe a lot of study have found there is indeed strong correlation TV-social change; but few conducted in rural India. In this study focus on TV-related processes of change in rural India, incl. consumerism, urban modelling (jeans, T-shirts, aspirations), restructuring of human rels (e.g. men and women sitting together), linguistic hegemony (Hindi and English), migration and new info underclass (those few without a telly).

156 TV threatens status quo in village: elders threatened by democratic access to info, ability of villagers to learn about broader political and legal channels, bypassing them.

161-2 Kottak (1990) model of TV appropriation stages: 1. TV as mesmerising novelty, 2. People more used to it, more selective, 3. TV now in most homes in a locale, 4. All-pervasiveness, life-long medium; profound long-term effects now in evidence. In these India villages TV arrived mid-1980s so they’re now in stage 2.

163 Conclusion: must abandon idea of idyllic harmonious village life; instead ‘I found a culture replete with conflict’ and with ‘people striving for change and doing everything in their power to achieve it’. TV part of these struggles, giving an active audience new tools with which to change their lives, and forcing the village elites to find new ways of holding on to their power.

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