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Unit I
Chapter 1
Societal Problems

I t is said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the 1960s,

the need to address pervasive problems in countries with post-
colonial backgrounds prompted the evolution of development com-
munication as a professional and scientific discipline. Perhaps an
unstated goal of development communication is to render itself
irrelevant through the solution of these societal problems. Some
say, however, that these problems will always be there, or at least,
the tendency for them to recur is always present. Be that as it may,
the existence of these problems in its various forms and permuta-
tions provides the major argument for development communica-


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Enumerate the social problems associated with under-
2. Describe these problem conditions; and
3. Establish trends when appropriate.
4 Introduction to Development Communication

A Third World Legacy

Although the term Third World is no longer in vogue after the

fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe, the problems and conditions
represented by this phrase have not disappeared nor, in fact, dimin-
ished. The problems that our generation of baby boomers attempted
to solve 30 years ago are still as virulent as ever.

Living in a developing country, you must have encountered these

conditions on a daily basis. There is a strong tendency for us to
become insensitive or desensitized to these problems. As students
of development communication it is important for us to resist this
tendency. An unrelenting awareness and consciousness of these
problems provides the impetus for our practice.

Third World Problems

Development sociologists would tell us that problems such as the

ones described in the Prologue are pervasive in the Third World
and hence associated with underdevelopment. Decades of devel-
opment experience prove that they come in clusters, occurring and
recurring with alarming consistency and tenacity like a collective
nightmare that refuses to pass. These problems persistently nag the
conscience of rich nations. The virulent nature of these problems
has desensitized our society. What is more alarming is the apathetic
attitude adopted by many of us.

The Dev Com Response

Development communication grew in response to these societal

problems. One of its underlying assumptions is that these prob-
lems may be traced to root causes and these root causes may in turn
be remedied by information and communication.


What exactly are the problems that plague developing societies?

How grave, how profound are their imprints on our lives?
Unit I Chapter 1 5


The most menacing of these problems is poverty. How many live

in absolute poverty? Consider these figures: 350 million in India;
195 million in China; 93.2 million in Bangladesh; 72.4 million in
Brazil; 47.8 million in Indonesia; 46.4 in Nigeria; 37.6 million in
Vietnam; 35.2 million in the Philippines; and 157 million more in
other parts of the developing world.

Poverty is a problem that brings with it a host of other virulent

problems, such as societal instability, vices and diseases. Consider,
for instance, the argument of the parents of sexually abused chil-
dren in Pagsanjan, a tourist town in Southern Luzon. They would
gladly lend their children to pedophile tourists since these for-
eigners would spend for their childrens education and upkeep.

Consider, too, the justification of the parents of the exploited Muro

Ami boys. That it is only because of extreme poverty that they
allow their sons to dive, work the fishing nets and risk their lives.
Then there are the public school teachers who would gladly give up
their teaching jobs to become domestic helpers in Italy. Not to
mention the dentists and accountants who apply for menial jobs in
the US Navy. We hear about the young ladies who are forced to
sacrifice their morals for a stint in Japan as japayukis. And who is
not familiar with the barrio lasses whose highest aspiration is to
become mail order brides for aging males in the Australian outback.
It is all because of poverty or the unrelenting threat of it in a devel-
oping country.

Six out of 10 Filipinos are poor. This estimate is based on optimis-

tic figures of the National Census and Statistics Office. If we base
our figures on current poverty indices of organiza-tions such as the
University of Asia and the Pacific, we estimate that eight out of 10
Filipinos are below the poverty line.

Being poor means being unable to eat properly, clothe yourself prop-
erly, purchase medicine for your ailments, or dwell in a safe, com-
6 Introduction to Development Communication

fortable shelter. It means being unable to get an education because

of the lack of money. It means not being able to support your
family or adequately provide them with basic necessities. It means
being eternally in debt.

We are not even writing strictly of slum dwellers or marginal farm-

ers here. Many professionals fit the description given above.


You are unemployed when you do not earn a living. You are under-
employed when your job requires skills that are way below what
you trained for. Consequently, you are paid way below your worth.

Our national economic experts believe that our unemployment rates

are decreasing, painting a rosy picture of the utilization of our hu-
man resources. However, what does your experience tell you? Are
unemployment and underemployment really improving?

High Population Growth

World population has reached the 6 billion mark and is rapidly in-
creasing. Reflect for a moment that at the end of the 18th century,
there were only 900 million people in the entire world. This nearly
doubled a century later with 1.6 billion. Today, however, after an-
other hundred years, this figure ballooned almost four times. Is the
dire Malthusian prediction coming to pass in our time?

Seven out of the 10 most highly populated nations are developing

countries. These countries have youthful populations, and thus have
a staggering potential for even greater population growth rates.
Considering a world where resources are limited, this becomes a
critical concern not only of developing countries but also of West-
ern countries with low populations as well. In fact, the United Na-
tions considers it as one of the biggest problems facing the world
Unit I Chapter 1 7


Contrary to myth, all men are not created equal. Some are born
rich, others are born poor. Some are born healthy; others are born
with the specter of disease continually haunting them. Some are
born in industrialized countries; others are born in develop-ing coun-
tries. However, everyone should be equally provided with the op-
portunity to develop, to realize his or her full potential.
In developing countries, such a condition is but a dream. Consider,
for instance, the fact that 10 percent of the population in the Phil-
ippines controls 90 percent of its economic resources. For a poor
country, it is strange to find people literally wal-lowing in wealth.

Is the situation any better globally?

In 1998, the United Nations Development Program reported that:

1. The wealth of the worlds three richest individuals is more than

the total GDP of 48 nations.
2. The wealth of the worlds 15 richest people is more than the
total GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa.
3. The wealth of the worlds 32 richest people is more than the
total GDP of South Asia
4. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen

Little has changes since then.

Environmental Degradation
and the Loss of Arable Land

The Philippines should not be poor. It is very rich in natural re-

sources. Being in the tropical zone, it is also very rich in genetic
resources. Biodiversity is one of the hallmarks of all its major eco-
systems upland, lowland, and coastal. Yet these ecosystems are
surely being degraded at an alarming rate.
8 Introduction to Development Communication

In the past 50 years, 70 percent of our primary forests have been

logged-over. Our agricultural lands are rapidly being transformed
into industrial parks and residential subdivisions. This loss of ar-
able land poses not only environmental problems but food security
problems as well.

Furthermore, our cities and inland waters suffer from unabated in-
dustrial pollution that causes an ever-widening range of pervasive
skin and respiratory ailments, cancers, nervous disorders, neuro-
logical diseases, and brain damage. What is even more disturbing is
the threat to our coastal and marine environment, which is the most
genetically diverse in the entire world.

By nature, marine ecosystems are more delicate than upland and

lowland ecosystems. A sudden drop or increase in temperature could
spell the death of many organisms. A carelessly dropped anchor
could physically damage coral reefs and subsequently contribute to
depleted fish catch. Consider that more than 50 percent of our
protein intake comes from our coastal resources.


Two decades ago, it was estimated that 68 percent of our popula-

tion lived below the so-called borderline between nutrition and
malnutrition. Seventy-five percent suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.
Seventy percent of our children are anemic. An equivalent percent-
age has internal parasites.

However, our technocrats are optimistic. By 1997, a researcher from

the Department of Science and Technology believed that the mal-
nutrition rate would slow down by 40 percent. UNICEF figures
belie this projection. The organization estimates that 160,000 chil-
dren die each year because of malnutrition. Seventeen children go
blind each day because of Vitamin A deficiency.
Unit I Chapter 1 9

Furthermore, we should note that, as food policy researchers Frances

Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins have stressed, malnutrition wears
two faces: undernutrition and overnutrition. Underdeveloped
countries are cursed with the former while the latter is preva-lent in
the West where the poor, who cannot afford gyms and diet pro-
grams, are obese.

Ethnic Conflict

Contemporary wars are not being waged by countries but by cul-


The conflicts in Rwanda, Basque, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Af-

ghanistan, Aceh, Maluku, East Timur and Mindanao are not politi-
cal struggles but are cases of cultural and ethnic strife. Political
scientist and historian Samuel P. Huntington refers to these con-
flicts as the beginnings of the clash of civilizations. More appro-
priate perhaps is the phrase, the clash of cultures.

Societal Priorities

Given the gravity and extent of our societal problems, one would
think that a concerted and comprehensive effort to solve all these
problems would be conducted by the community of nations. In-
deed several initiatives have been formed, particularly during the
turn of the millennium. The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992)
followed by the Johannesburg Summit (2002) has crystallized the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Yet, if we begin comparing the items of our annual global expendi-

tures, then we can only conclude that these initiatives fall way be-
low our global list of priorities.
10 Introduction to Development Communication

The United Nations Development Program made such a compari-

son in its 1998 Human Development Report. The analysis showed
that during the late 1990s, the world spent US$ 780 billion on mili-
tary hardware/software and US$ 400 billion on drugs while allot-
ting a mere US$ 8 billion on basic education. And to think that
military spending only serves to exacerbate problems such as eth-
nic conflict.

Europe alone spent US$ 105 billion on alcoholic beverages and

US$ 50 billion on cigarettes while the entire world spent a measly
US$ 13 billion on basic health and nutrition. The Japanese spent an
average of US$ 35 billion per year on business entertainment while
the rest of the world had to be satisfied with US$8 billion on water
and sanitation. Europe and the United States spent US$ 17 billion
on pet food and US$ 12 million on perfumes while the rest of the
world had merely the same amount to spend on reproductive health

Figure 1-1 gives the global annual spending in the 1990s, a clear
indication of our societal priorities in spite of our societal prob-


800 780





100 50 35 17 13 12 12 11 9 8.1 8



Pet Foods

Ice Cream
Basic Health
and Nutrition

Water and
and USA)

and USA)




Health for


Figure 1-1. Annual spending in US$ Billion

Unit I Chapter 1 11


This chapter enumerated problems associated with underdevelop-

ment. Your personal encounters with these problems must have
prompted you at one time or another to actively engage yourself in
solving them. Their magnitude and complexity may have, at times,
given you a feeling of helplessness and frustration. With the right
tools, however, everything is possible.


Hughes, J. (1995). The Larousse Desk Reference. London: Larousse.

United Nations Development Program. 1998 Human Development
Report. New York.
Chapter 2
Underdevelopment Problematique

P roblems associated with underdevelopment have exhibited a

great degree of complexity. Attempts to analyze these prob-
lems often fail to grasp the intricacy of the situation and occasion-
ally offer solutions that work for the short term but are ineffective
in the long term.

This chapter gives the development communication student a tech-

nique to better appreciate these problems and in so doing offer
sustainable solutions.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Describe the vicious cycle of poverty;
2. Characterize problems associated with underdevelop-
3. Describe the problematique technique; and
4. Define subordinate and superordinate influential fac-
14 Introduction to Development Communication

The Vicious Cycle of Poverty

In the mid-1960s, the noted policy scientist Daniel Lerner intro-

duced the phrase vicious cycle of poverty to development jar-
gon. It characterized a situation wherein: sustained economic growth is possible because each

specific advance is rapidly checked by some counter-ten-
dency in the social system. The most important of such
counter tendencies is excessive population growth. Any sig-
nificant economic progress tends to prolong life by reduc-
ing famine and pesti-lence. When death rates decrease more
rapidly than birth ratesoften, indeed, while birth rates are
increasingthen rapid population growth occurs. In poor
countries population growth tends to lead economic
growth by setting rates of increase that must be at-tained
so that the society can stay at its existing levels of poverty.
No surpluses can be generated, hence no leap forward is

We can summarize the dominant features of the vicious cycle in

the following diagram.

low productivity

lack of technology not enough food

low savings and investments malnutrition

low-income poor education

unequal wealth distribution high birth rate

unemployment and

Figure 2-1. The vicious cycle of poverty

Unit I Chapter 2 15

Lerners analysis points to excessive population growth as the most

critical counter-tendency in the development process. But is it re-
ally? If we reduce population growth to zero (ZPG) in the Philip-
pines, will we solve our countrys problems and crises?

Without undermining its originality and importance, we must point

out a flaw in Lerners analysis: he assumed that these problems or
so-called dominant features come individually and sequentially.
However, it has been perennially observed that the problems asso-
ciated with underdevelopment:

1. are pervasive;
2. are interrelated;
3. come in clusters; and
4. have an innate tendency to recur.

Development planners in the 1990s are faced with the same prob-
lems as their counterparts in the 1950s and 1960s. The situation has
prompted development agencies to focus on a new concept, namely
sustainable development (as in sustainable agriculture). It is along
this line that we introduce the following topic.

The Problematique Method

In the late 1970s, two communication scientists from Indiana Uni-

versity, Michael Molenda and Anthony Di Paolo, observed a cer-
tain tendency for problems in communication systems to come in
clusters and recur. They referred to the presence of this type of
problems as a problematique situation. Since then, the word
problematique has come to mean a complex cluster of problems
that are so virulent in nature that they recur every so often.

Molenda and Di Paolo also developed an innovative yet simple way

of solving the problematique by tracing and differentiating between
symptoms which they called subordinate influential factors and
root causes which they referred to as superordinate influential fac-
16 Introduction to Development Communication

They argued that in any given system, problems are usually interre-
lated, one being the cause or the effect of another. Decision mak-
ers usually fall into the trap of mistaking a symptom for the root
cause. Hence, any attempt at remedying the symptom will only suc-
ceed temporarily since these are merely palliatives. Until the root
cause is identified and eradicated, the cluster of problems will al-
ways recur. The important thing is to identify the superordinate
influential factors through a series of unstructured, open-ended
interviews. This procedure is known as the problematique tech-

The Problematique Map

How is the problematique technique done?

First, identify a problem situation. For purposes of example, let us

pick a personal, not a societal problem and assume that our biggest
problem is not enough cash. Now, proceed drafting what Librero
(1993) calls a problematique map. Get a piece of paper and write
down this problem at the bottom of the page. Enclose this prob-
lem in a box.

The figure would look like this:

I dont have enough income

Figure 2-2. The not enough cash problematique map

Unit I Chapter 2 17

Next, ask Why? In other words, ask yourself, Why dont I have
enough cash? List down the reasons that directly cause this situa-
tion of not having enough money. Again, for purposes of example,
let us say that the following reasons contribute to our cash flow

1. low income; and

2. high cost of living.

In a diagram, link these reasons to the problem situation with a line

and an arrowhead pointing towards the problem to establish cau-
sality. Our diagram would now look like this:

Not enough opportunities

Low salary

Low returns on investments

High cost of living

I dont have enough income

Figure 2-3. The not enough cash problematique map

Now, go over these reasons one by one and ask yourself, Why?

1. Why is my income low?

2. Why is the cost of living high?

Let us assume that you have two sources of income: your salary
and your investments. Let us assume further that your salary is small
and that the returns on your investment are also small. Moreover
your salary is pegged to the minimum because of the lack of an
advanced degree. Similarly, the low ROI and the high cost of liv-
ing may be a function of unsound economic policies. In the dia-
gram (see Figure 2-4), link these factors to the respective situations
to establish causality.
18 Introduction to Development Communication

Our diagram would now look like this:

Lack of advanced degree

Not enough opportunities Unsound economic policies

Low salary

Low returns on investments

High cost of living

I dont have enough income

Figure 2-4. The not enough income problematic map

We may continue this process by again asking Why? for each

reason identified until this question can no longer be answered.
The problematique itself, however, shares the boundaries of the
system under study. In other words, the factor identified should not
go beyond the system.

Let us assume that such is the case in our example. The lack of an
advanced degree could no longer be attributed to any other factor
and the unsound economic policy goes beyond the system under
study, i.e., our personal circumstances.

Figure 2-2 gives us an example of the problematique map, the

problematique tech-niques basic tool for analysis. The bold-bor-
dered box is the condition under study. The boxes with arrows point-
ing towards them are the subordinate influential factors or the symp-
toms of the root causes. The blocks with no arrows pointing to-
wards them are the super-ordinate influential factors or the root
Unit I Chapter 2 19

The problematique condition may be described in the following

manner: The root causes of our poor cash flow are the lack of an
advanced deg-ree and the poor economic policy environment. Symp-
toms or subordinate influential factors of this problem situation
are: the high cost of living and low income, which in turn is caused
by low salary and low returns on investments.

Does it make sense to you?


Lerner, D. (1963). Toward a communication theory of moderniza-

tion in Communication and Political Development. Lucien Pye (ed.),
pp 346-347.
Librero, F. (1993). Towards a methodology for problematique analy-
sis: A Philippine experience. Asian Journal of Communication 3(1),
84-102. Singapore: AMIC.
Molenda, M. and Di Paolo, A. (1978). An analysis of problems and
possibilities of the audio-visual general department. USAID.
Chapter 3
What is Development?

W hat is development? For a time, many equated development

with new roads and tall buildings. These were the observable
signs of an increasing gross national product, the gauge of a nations
wealth. It didnt take long for them to realize that an increase in
GNP didnt exactly mean development.

That was in the 1960s. Since then, many theories, many definitions,
and many measures of development have been forwarded. These
theories, definitions, and measures have their own individual mer-
its. From a development communication perspective, however, the
true measure of development is man.
22 Introduction to Development Communication


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Define development;
2. Describe the Three Development Decades;
3. Enumerate the conditions necessary for development
as given by Dudley Seers; and
4. Enumerate and describe the measures and indicators
of development.

A Poem on Development

As we look at all the roads,

that are appearing here and there
and all the fuss made about them,
we may wonder,
is this development?
If this is not, then what is?
A village gets a tractor or builds a well.
Many people rejoice,
here comes development,
the productive forces are expanding!

But someone says,

development of people, not of things!
Ten years of well digging,
road building,
tractor importing,
give no guarantee against
ten following years of indolence,
injustice and
Unit I Chapter 3 23

Development, if any, is to be found behind the well;

the way it was decided and built,
how credit was fought for,
in the discussions that went on
during its construction.

The tractor: behind its shiny exterior,

surrounded by smiling villagers
and illustrious potentates.
Does it represent
growing indigenous capacity for production and organization or
growing desire and ability to get what one needs from
the Government or other agencies
with the least effort and
at the sacrifice of independent thought?

The tractor could represent

many lies told
and as many truths withheld.
To judge how much development a thing represents,
We have to look at
the people who brought the thing about, and how and why.

G. Belkin
Canadian Hunger Foundation Report
ASIA FOCUS, Volume VIII, Number 1,
First Quarter, 1973, pp. 40-41

Definitions and Measures

The First Development Decade

Much has been said, much has been written about development
and many scholars feel that this much is enough. There is no longer
any need to belabor it some more. However, it was only after the
Second World War when people began applying the term devel-
opment in the context of nations and societies. In fact, before
John Maynard Keynes the term was more frequently applied in bi-
ology than in economics.
24 Introduction to Development Communication

Among the first to employ it were economists from the victorious

Allied countries, dons from Oxford and Harvard who, along with
political scientists and strategists, were engaged by their respective
governments to establish the foundations of a post-war interna-
tional economic order. Development was the desired goal or end-
state for countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, all with agri-
culture-based economies and post-colonial histories, some of which
were ravaged by the war.

The term soon became a buzz word for diplomats, planners, and
policymakers. It was institutionalized as a fashionable adjunct to
the newly-formed national and international agencies such as the
United States Agency for International Development and the United
Nations Development Programme. A surge of activity promot-ing
development soon ensued internationally with the Western nations
as the donors and countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as
the beneficiaries. These focused on infrastructure and agricultural
productivity. The 1960s became the First Develop-ment Decade.

There was no question about the so-called yardstick for develop-

ment in the 1960s. The most accurate measure of development
was the gross national product (GNP), the total money value of
the goods and services produced by a country in a given year. Econo-
mists argued that there was a direct correlation between develop-
ment and the growth of the GNP.

In the 1960s, a country such as the Philippines whose GNP was

increasing by five percent and above was undeniably on its way to
development. It was during this decade that the word underdevel-
oped was substituted by its more acceptable euphemism, develop-
ing. Henceforth, underdeveloped countries in Asia, Africa, and
South America became known as developing countries. It was
also during this decade that international financial institutions such
as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or
the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank began investing
heavily in development programs in the developing world.
Unit I Chapter 3 25

During the First Development Decade, several feasibility studies

which formed part of technical assistance grants for World Bank
loans were conducted. Many of these studies concluded that it was
as feasible to invest in human resource development or in educa-
tion as in infrastructure in developing countries. In fact, it was pro-
jected be more profitable in the long term.

Another enhancement was the involvement of multi-disciplinary

teams of engineers, economists, and sociologists in these studies. It
became quite apparent to the latter, particularly during field visits,
that in spite of recorded increases in GNP there seemed to be very
little improvement among the poor. If the GNP was divided by the
countrys total population, then the resulting number, an increasing
per capita income, gave a misleading picture since the majority of
the developing countrys population remained poor. Economists
argued that, eventually, a trickle down effect would spread the
benefits of economic development to every stratum of human so-
ciety including the poorest of the poor.

In the international arena, the debate subsequently assumed a po-

litical flavor with the unavoidable comparison of the Western aid
model of development to the Chinese model, which became a com-
munist showcase in Asia during the 1960s. The latter boasted of
equal distribution of wealth, participation, and agrarian reform, al-
though in hindsight, the Chinese themselves began having secret
misgivings about their model. These debates, however, sparked a
serious rethinking of the use of the GNP as a single aggregate
yardstick for development.

Towards the end of the 1960s, the development and underdevelop-

ment dichotomy gave way to a three-way categorization. To distin-
guish the communist countries (or countries with centrally planned
economies) from the developed or industrial-commercial countries,
the latter became known as the First World and the former as the
Second World. The developing countries from Asia, Africa, and
South America made up the Third World.
26 Introduction to Development Communication

The Second Development Decade

Thus, the 1970s ushered in what the United Nations calls the Sec-
ond Development Decade with an obvious paradigm shift in per-
spective from the economic to the humanistic. Development was
no longer defined as economic growth measured by the gross na-
tional product. The term began to assume a deeper meaning, the
improvement of the quality of life of the individual. Man him-
self became the measure of development.

Foremost among the new development thinkers was a German

named E.F. Schumacher and an Englishman named Dudley Seers.
Schumacher, an economist by profession, was deeply influenced by
Buddhist philosophy. His unique brand of Buddhist economics
became the subject of a very influential book in the mid-1970s
entitled Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.

Seers, on the other hand, was the Director of the Institute of De-
velopment Studies at the University of Sussex. Like Ghandi, he
believed that development should provide the necessary conditions
for the realization of the potential of human personality. The presence
of these conditions determines whether a country is developed or
not. The following conditions should serve as indicators for devel-

1. enough food, clothing, footwear, and shelter

2. meaningful employment
3. equality
4. education

Hence, the relevant questions to ask according to Seers are: Is the

supply of food increasing? Is the employment rate increasing? Is
equality increasing? Are educational opportunities getting more and
more available to everybody? If the answer to these questions are
in the affirmative, then there has been a period of development
for the country concerned.
Unit I Chapter 3 27

Taking the cue from Seers, the Development Academy of the Phil-
ippines launched the Social Indicators Project in October 1973 to
develop a comprehensive measure for development, a national
social accounting system in the words of its project director, Mahar
Mangahas. From a preliminary list of nine areas of concern, the
project isolated 30 elements, each a measurable, quantitative indi-
cator. The indexes are as follows:

1. Health and Nutrition

2. Education and Skills
3. Income and Consumption
a. Net beneficial product per capita
b. Proportion and number of families below the food poverty
c. Proportion and number of families below the total poverty
d. Ratio of mean income of richest quintile to mean income
of poorest quintile
e. Rate of inflation of consumer prices

4. Employment
a. Unemployment rate of the totally unemployed, by occupa-
tion and by educational attainment
b. Real wage rate index, skilled vs. unskilled workers, by occu-

5. Capital and Non-Human Resources

a. Reproducible capital stock
b. Arable land
c. Concentration ratio of agricultural land ownership
d. Forested land
e. Mineral reserves, by type of mineral

6. Housing, Utilities and Environment

a. Proportion of occupied dwelling units adequately served
with water
28 Introduction to Development Communication

b. Proportion of the population served by electricity at home

c. Index of housing adequacy
d. Proportion of households with 1.5 persons or less per home
e. Proportion of occupied dwelling units with toilets
f. Pollution index for Metro Manila
g. Proportion of river lengths polluted, by river, by degree of

7. Public Safety and Justice

a. Crime incidence rate, by type of crime
b. Index of citizens perception of public safety and justice
c. Backlog of judicial cases
d. Admissions to penal institutions
e. Number confined in penal institutions

8. Social Mobility
a. Index of occupational mobility
b. Coefficient of openness of occupations, circulation mobil-
c. Index of perceived social mobility

9. Political Values
a. Ratio of votes cast to registered voters
b. Ratio of registered voters to population aged 21 and over
c. Index of political mobility
d. Index of political participation
e. Index of political awareness
f. Index of freedom of political dissent
g. Index of political efficacy

The Third Development Decade

The 1980s became known as the Third Development Decade. By

this time, widespread disillusionment on the slow pace of and frus-
trations in development work has made the use of the phrase su-
perfluous. This period, however, was characterized by further re-
finements and focus.
Unit I Chapter 3 29

The decade brought in a realignment of priorities among interna-

tional funding institutions along the lines of Seers thought. From
infrastructure, investments were channeled to agriculture, educa-
tion, and health. Several landmark concerns were introduced. Among
them are as follows:

Women in Development (WID). Concerns for the role of women

in development became translated as valid components in almost
all fields of development endeavor from agriculture to population
planning to rural credit. Years later, when the tendency was ob-
served for the pendulum to swing extremely in favor of women,
this agenda was repackaged into a more neutral set of concerns
called gender issues. Today, almost all funding agencies, from
international aid agencies such as the World Bank to bilateral agen-
cies such as USAID, require a gender component in their projects.

Environment. The World Environment Conference in Stockholm

in the late 1970s ushered in a serious concern for the environment
in the development arena. In the past, development was synony-
mous to industrialization, and industrialization was anathema to
the environment. Pollution and degradation were thought of as
necessary evils in the development process. If anything, the
Stockholm Conference proved that environmental degradation had
social and economic costs that largely undermined development
efforts. Environmental impact assessments (EIA) are now primary
prerequisites in development projects.

Social Dimensions. Much of the criticism on earlier development

efforts were leveled on the apparent lack of concern for the nega-
tive social and cultural impacts that a development intervention
would bring. For instance, building a dam to run turbines that would
produce electricity or irrigate rice fields would be a desirable devel-
opment project from the technical, economic and environmental
points of view. Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of elec-
tricity. It is also one of the cleanest, with little or no pollutants
30 Introduction to Development Communication

However, from the social and cultural points of view, building a

dam can have such grave consequences. Two dams built in the 1970s
may serve as cases in point: the Pantabangan Dam in Central Luzon
and the Chico Dam in the Cordilleras. In the case of the
Pantabangan Dam, an entire town had to be inundated, literally
wiped off from the face of the earth. In the Chico River Dam,
sacred sites of indigenous peoples had to be submerged. This re-
sulted in such a struggle that attracted worldwide attention and has
become a case study for peoples repression.

If we are to compute the economic costs of such a struggle, we

might arrive at the conclusion that the costs would far outweigh the
benefits of such a facility. And indeed, this becomes a valid con-
cern among the agencies that bankroll development. The Asian
Development Bank, for one, has established a Social Dimensions
Unit to look into the primary and higher order impacts of pro-
posed development interventions to the social and cultural lives of
affected communities. The Bank has published two innovative guide-
books on this subject. Likewise, the United States Agency for In-
ternational Development has developed a procedure for social
soundness analysis and has established it as a requirement for pipe-
line projects to be approved.

Indigenous Peoples. For so long, indigenous peoples have been

neglected in the development agenda of Third World countries.
Oftentimes, the spread of progress has led to the extinction of an
entire ethnic culture or way of life. Development planners began to
realize that, in many instances, the struggle for cultural survival
among indigenous peoples may be actually a struggle for ecological
survival, i.e., against threats on biodiversity. This is not surprising
because to most indigenous peoples, distinctions between cultural
and biological diversity do not exist. Modernizing the way of life of
cultural minorities will incur economic costs on our ecosystems. It
thus becomes counter-productive. Again, ensuring the welfare of
indigenous groups has become a consideration in the conduct of
development undertakings.
Unit I Chapter 3 31

Sustainable Development. Last but not the least is the concern

for sustainable development. Sustainable development is the con-
vergence of economic, social, and environmental goals. This con-
cern may be traced to the Third Worlds experience in agricultural
production or the so-called Green Revolution. In the early 1980s, it
has become obvious that the gains in agricultural production can-
not be sustained. The high-yielding variety technology required
massive amounts of chemical inputs. These severely stressed the
soil and subsequently limited future produce. Recognizing these
constraints, development planners began studying alternative pro-
duction technologies guided by sustainability concerns. Sustainable
agriculture was born in this manner, within an atmosphere of lively


Asian Development Bank. (1994). A handbook for incorporation of

social dimensions in projects. Manila: APB.
Cuyno, R.V. and Lumanta, M.F. (1979). Internalizing rural development
experience. University of the Philippines at Los Banos.
Goulet, D. (1985). The global development debate: The case for
alternative strategies. Development and Peace. Autumn, 5-16.
Henriot, P.J. Development alternatives: Problems, strategies, values.
Inayatullah. (1967). Toward a non-western model of development
in Communication and Change in the Developing Countries. D. Lerner
and W. Schramm, Eds. Honolulu.
Myrdal, G. (1972). Against the stream: Critical essays on economics. New
York: Vintage Books.
Schumacher, E.F. (1973). Small is beautiful: Economics as if people mat-
tered. London: Blond and Briggs, Ltd.
Seers, D. (1969). The meaning of development. Paper presented during
the 11th World Conference of the Society for International De-
velopment. New Delhi, November 14-17, 1969.
Chapter 4

Of Blind Men and Paradigms

I n the preceding chapter, we discussed the changes in develop-

ment perspectives from the 1960s to the 1980s. We called these
changes paradigm shifts. Here in this module, we shall again en-
counter the term paradigm as applied to the problems of underde-
velopment that we identified in the introductory module. We will
also attempt to employ the problematique method described in the
second module to illustrate the major paradigms.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Enumerate the four major paradigms through which
the problem of underdevelopment is analyzed; and
2. Determine the subordinate and superordinate influen-
tial factors of the underdevelopment problematique
from each major paradigm.
34 Introduction to Development Communication

Paradigms, Perspectives
It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the elephant,
(Though all of them were blind,)
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

One of the most dreadful words that I had to wrestle with in graduate
school was the word paradigm. What is a paradigm? Simply put,
a paradigm is a way of explaining things. Ideally, a paradigm adopts
a set of assumptions about nature (called epistemology), a unique
pattern of interpretation, reasoning, and theorizing. A paradigm
may be described in a number of ways: a perspective; a way of
looking at things; a school of thought; a particular model of reality
adopted by a scientist or theoretician when conducting an inquiry.

For instance, the problems of underdevelopment may be analyzed

from different points of view. Many of us at the UPLB College of
Development Communication tend to look at these problems from
the sociological perspective. An economics major would have it
differently. So would a politician, an engineer, or even a priest. That
is because we have chosen to adopt different paradigms or ways of
interpreting reality.

In Chapter 2 we attempted to draw a map of the underdevelop-

ment problematique and to trace its superordinate influential fac-
tors. Needless to say, the configurations in this map as well as the
root causes identified would depend to a large degree on the para-
digm that we adopt.

There are four major paradigms used in analyzing underdevelop-

ment, namely: the technological paradigm; the economic para-
digm; the structural paradigm; and the values paradigm.
Unit I Chapter 4 35

The Technological Paradigm

The first approached the elephant,

And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl
God bless me but the elephant
Is very like a wall!

Many technologists and engineers believe that the primary cause of

underdevelopment is the lack of technological know-how in the
Third World. Their premise is based on the observation that West-
ern nations are rich because they employ modern technology in
agriculture, industry, transportation, telecommunications, and health.
They argue that the Third World will solve most of its problems by
adopting new technology. They are true believers of the concepts
of technical assistance and technology transfer wherein the
know-how of the West is transplanted, modified and practiced in
the developing world. This is primarily accomplished through the
services of expatriate experts or consultants.

How then are the problems of underdevelopment solved? By ad-

dressing the root cause, technological backwardness.

Technology is the panacea of the problems associated with under-

development. This perspective has provided the main arguments
for agencies such as the International Rice Research Institute and
others of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR) network as well as for the family planning pro-
grams of the 1960s and 1970s.
36 Introduction to Development Communication

The Economic Paradigm

The second feeling of the tusk,

Cried: Ho! what have we here,
So very round, and smooth and sharp?
To me tis very clear,
This wonder of an elephant
Is very like a spear!

The economic paradigm forwards that under-development is a func-

tion of economic policy. It follows then that the best instruments
for development are sound monetary and fiscal policies. This view
is referred to as economic fundamentalism.

As a Research Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, I at-

tended a seminar wherein an economist, who just completed a stint
as a young professional of the Asian Development Bank, presented
an economic model of what was then quite a novel topic, the newly-
industrialized countries of Southeast Asia or NICs. The paper gave
a number of observations one of which was that unsound eco-
nomic policies has made the Philippines the basket case of South-
east Asia. This was, of course, in 1989. According to this expert,
had the country pursued agro-industrialization and invested more
on education it could have been a NIC like Singa-pore or Taiwan.
Such would be the argument of one who espouses the economic

How then do we solve the underdevelopment problematique? By

attacking the root cause with sound fiscal and monetary policies.

Of course, this argument is debatable. Anybody with even a little

familiarity with the Philippine situation would certainly question
the conclusion forwarded by our young economist. So I challenged
his observations regarding the Philippines after his presentation. It
is a fact that the country invested heavily on education and even
spearheaded agro-industrialization in the region. How could its prob-
lems been caused by poor economic planning when it had some of
the best economists in the world at its service?
Unit I Chapter 4 37

The speaker responded that he did not see this during his stint in
Manila, which was during the Marcos era. What he did find, how-
ever, were absurd cases of graft and corruption such as policemen
stealing chickens from rural folk. Precisely. Graft and corruption
may have been a major hindrance to economic prosperity. But where
in his economic model was graft and corruption factored in? Agree-
ably, the Philippine government had some of the best economists
in its employ then, textbook writers even. But it also had some of
the worst crooks, a situation which to my mind was the reason why
the Philippine economy was considered a basket case. No amount
of fiscal or monetary policy could have saved it then.

Our economist friends would have a caveat for this in the Latin
phrase, ceteris paribus, i.e., All things being equal. Given the com-
plexity of poverty, one cannot just impose this conditionality.

Which brings us to our next paradigm.

The Structural Paradigm

The third approached the animal,

And, happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up he spake;
I see, quoth he, the elephant
Is very like a snake!

An unjust, self-perpetuating social system is responsible for the

social ills in this country.

Third World poverty is caused by the existing world economic


Inequality is exacerbated by the present world information and

communication order.
38 Introduction to Development Communication

Our environmental problems are not caused by biogeophysical

factors but primarily by institutional factors.

In this age of information and communication, a new social di-

chotomy is emerging, one which is much more subtle but as ex-
ploitative as its predecessorsa new elite composed of the infor-
mation rich and a new lower class composed of the information

These statements attribute societal problems to social structures,

i.e., governments, institutions, the so-called establishment, the capi-
talistic economic system, the oligarchy, the monarchy, the elite, etc.
This paradigm assumes that existing social orders dictating classes
and castes, the ruler and the ruled, as well as the explicit and im-
plicit laws that govern them have innate deficiencies and contradic-
tions that breed inequality, poverty, corruption and eventually lead
to its collapse.

How are the problems of underdevelopment solved? By changing

the social order through revolution or devolution.

The concern for empowerment is rooted in this paradigm. In the

third and last unit of this course, you will be introduced to the four
Es of development communication, one of which is empower-
ment. The assumptions of this paradigm provides the rationale for
empowerment to become a devcom ideal.

The Values Paradigm

The fourth reached out his eager hand,

And fell about the knee:
What must this wondrous beast is like,
Is very plain, quoth he
Tis clear enough the elephant
Is very like a tree!

Going back to the NIC example, explanations as to why certain

countries in Southeast Asia become NICs are not limited to eco-
Unit I Chapter 4 39

nomics. There is the cultural explanation based on the observation

that the newly industrialized countries have predominantly Chinese
populations. Countries that are lagging behind are those with pre-
dominantly Malay populations such as Indonesia, the Philippines,
and Malaysia.

This so-called cultural explanation was forwarded in the early 1990s.

Later events would substantiate or belie this hypothesis depending
on our sources of economic data.

However, upon hearing this explanation initially, we were tempted

to categorize it as a sociobiological argument, that development is
correlated to the color of ones skin, a racist view of development!
However, a qualification accompanies this explanation: newly in-
dustrialized countries are not limited to those with predominantly
Chinese populations such as Singapore and Taiwan. These include
countries with cultures heavily influenced by Confucian teachings
such as Korea and Thailand. Therefore, it is not a function of race
but of values.

At about the same time when this explanation was forwarded, a

Senate sub-committee headed by former Sen. Leticia Ramos Shahani
sponsored Senate Resolution Number 10. This resolution directed
the Department of Education, Culture and Sports to look into the
strengths and weaknesses of the Filipino national character to de-
termine how these affect our development as a nation. This Senate
resolution eventually spawned the Moral Regeneration Movement.

These are examples of arguments categorized under the values para-

digm. According to this paradigm, the ills of our society may be
traced to our values as a people.

To solve this underdevelopment problematique, we should change

our values for the better and see to it that our children adopt and
imbibe positive values associated with development.
40 Introduction to Development Communication

A Case of Blind Men Leading Blind Men?

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: Een the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most:
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant
Is very like a fan!

Youve just read the sixth stanza of the poem The Six Blind Men
and the Elephant. When you get to the next unit of this course,
youll encounter an often-quoted maxim in communication, Mean-
ings are in people, not in words. One of the best illustrations of this
principle is John Godfrey Saxes poem about the six blind men from

The sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
I see, quoth he, the elephant
Is very like a rope!

Now let us assume for a moment that the elephant under study is
not an animal but this complex web of societal problems called
underdevelopment. In many respects, underdevelopment is as ab-
stract to us as an ele-phant is to a blind man. The perspective of the
blind is limited to his other senses. In the case of the poem, their
individual perceptions were determined by their respective angles
of approach to the subject, guiding them to a specific body part
and subsequently leading them to a conclusion about the animals
appearance, i.e., a rope, a fan, a tree, a snake, a wall, or a spear.

These angles of approach may be likened to our points of view

about underdevelopment. Since the concept itself cannot be seen
in its totality, our tendency is to perceive it from our individual
vantage points, that of our respective disciplines: engineering; eco-
Unit I Chapter 4 41

nomics; social sciences; religion. Thus we arrive at differing conclu-

sions about underdevelopment and its causes, conclusions that upon
comparison are as different as a tree is to a snake or as a wall is to a

Another communication concept that will be taught to you in the

succeeding chapters is the principle of selectivity. This principle
states, in short, that our vision of the world is limited by selective
exposure, selective perception, and selective retention. Theres noth-
ing wrong with this because it has been, is, and ever shall be part of
human nature. In fact, this characteristic may have served us well in
the development of our mental processes. However, problems do
arise when we, for whatever reason, stubbornly stick to a point of
view without due regard to the validity of other points of view. At
best, such an attitude would result in blind men leading blind men.
At worst, it would result in a useless and tiring protracted debate.

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

We would like to differ to this concluding line of the last stanza in

Saxes poem. Why? A composite picture drawn from their individual
descriptions could lead to a creature that resembles an elephant.
Similarly, a convergence of points of views could result in a holis-
tic, more accurate picture of underdevelopment. This so-called
convergence of points of views will be treated lengthily in the next
unit with the introduction of Kincaids Convergence Model of

At this point, however, suffice it to say that development commu-

nication does not espouse any particular paradigm. In fact, at one
phase or another, development communication practitioners have
worked for and within each of these paradigms. Consider the
42 Introduction to Development Communication

Masagana 99 rural broadcasters and the family planning rural the-

aters of the 1970s; the alternative press of the 1980s; the economic
reporters of the 1990s; and the growing number of priests, nuns,
pastors, and other religious in the graduate program of the UPLB
College of Development Communication.

Whatever paradigm one adopts, there is an adequate development

communication response.

What then is the development communication response? The res-

ponse is to see to it that the right information is provided at the
right time and at the right place. It is to improve the efficiency and
effectiveness of educational delivery systems. It is to make sure
that information flows within the social system are not encumbered
and that these information flows contribute to the development
and evolution of this system.


Coombs, P.H. The role of education in rural development. Attack-

ing Rural Poverty.
Lasswell, H.D. (1948). The structure and function of communica-
tions in society. The Communication of Ideas. Lyman Bryson. New
York: Harper.
Schramm, W. (1964). The role of information in national develop-
ment. Mass Media and National Development. Stanford, CA:
Stanford University Press.
Unit II
Chapter 5
The Process

H ow does one define communication? A former colleague at

the UPLB College of Development Communication had seve-
ral pages of definitions of communicationtypewritten, single-
spaced! I have often wished that I had photocopied that list as proof
that definitions are not as important as knowing how communica-
tion takes place.

However, as development communication students, a basic under-

standing of the communication process is important for us to
achieve the highest social good in its application. In this chapter,
we will be discussing communication, its models, and the elements
and levels of communication.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Define communication;
2. Explain the elements of communication;
3. Enumerate the different levels of communication; and
4. Compare and contrast the models of communication.
46 Introduction to Development Communication

Defining Communication

In the past, you probably used the words sending or receiving

when referring to communication. These days, we prefer the word
sharing. The word share is important in any discussion of com-
munication because it connotes something that two or more people
do together rather than something one person does or gives to some-
one else.

Based on this information, Kincaid and Schramm define commu-

nication as the process of sharing and the relationship of the par-
ticipants in this process. Of course, their definition is but one of
many definitions of communication. As a student (or maybe even
as a teacher), you probably already know that those in this field do
not agree on a single definition of communication. How would
you define communication?

Black and Bryant (1992) define communication as:

1. the process by which individuals share meaning.

2. the process by which an individual (the communicator) trans-

mits stimuli (usually verbal symbols) to modify the behavior of
other individuals (communicatee).

3. occurring whenever information is passed from one place to


4. not simply the verbal, explicit, and intentional transmission of

message; it includes all those processes by which people influ-
ence one another.

5. occurring when person A communicates message B through

channel C to person D with effect E. Each of these letters is an
unknown to some extent, and the process can be solved for any
one of them or for any combination.
Unit II Chapter 5 47

Dennis McQuail and Sven Windahl wrote one of the classic texts
used in graduate communication classes. This was Communica-
tion Models for the Study of Mass Communication (1981). They
offer three examples of definitions of communication. These defi-
nitions (as well as any others you will come across in the future)
serve only to give us an idea of the diversity of meanings given to
communication. McQuail and Windahl list the following definitions.


1. is the transmission of information, ideas, attitudes, or emotion

from one person or group to another (or others) primarily
through symbols (Theodorson and Theodorson, 1969).

2. in the most general sense, occurs wherever one system, a source,

influences another, the destination, by manipulation of alterna-
tive symbols, which can be transmitted over the channel con-
necting them (Osgood et al., 1957)

3. may be defined as social interaction through messages

(Gerbner, 1967)

4. is a process by which a source sends a message to a receiver by

means of some channel to produce a response from the re-
ceiver, in accordance with the intention of the source (SRA
Sourcebook, 1996).

So far, we have come across two key words in these definitions:

process and information. According to Kincaid and Schramm:

1. Not all communication has to be human communication.

Animals communicate with animals, animals communicate with
people, traffic lights communicate with drivers, machines com-
municate with other machines (e.g., your ATM with its main-
48 Introduction to Development Communication

2. Not all participants in a communication process have to

be present at the same time. This is why we still know what
Christ, Confucius, and Plato taught, and why you can commu-
nicate through letters, posters, and other media.

3. Because of information and the ways with which man cre-

ates, maintains, stores, retrieves, processes, and interprets
it, communication can take place over large distances of
space and time. Thus, people can communicate through au-
diotape, videotape, e-mail, and regular mail.

4. Not all communication takes place in words. The traffic

enforcers whistle, the traffic light, the mapall these commu-
nicate without the spoken or written word. Deaf- mutes com-
municate without words, mime artists communicate without

5. Communication does not always require two or more par-

ticipants. When a security guard hears a noise in the middle of
the night, he calls out Whos there? In calling out, he has
created information. When no one responds, he realized that
no one else is around. He has created and shared information
with himself.

6. Thinking is a form of communication. Kincaid and Schramm

argue that thinking is actually talking to oneself. You may even
say that it is a form of internal communication by which mes-
sages are framed and responded to in much the same way as
two people engaged in communication with each other. Take,
for example, the way you argue with yourself before making a
move that could affect your career (e.g., making a stand for
something not advocated by your office).
Unit II Chapter 5 49

Communication as a Process

When communication is looked upon as a process, it follows that it

has elements that are continually changing, dynamic, and interact-
ing, Furthermore, the events and relationships among its elements
are seen as being:

1. On-going
2. Cyclic
3. Ever-changing
4. No beginning, no end
5. Interdependent
6. Interrelated

As a process, it has at least four attributes (SRA Sourcebook). It is:

Dynamic. Communication is ever changing, with no clear begin-

nings and endings.

Systemic. A system consists of a group of elements, which inter-

act to influence each other and the system as a whole.

Symbolic interaction. Language is a form of symbols which people

use in interacting with each other, in describing and classifying ex-
periences. How we select these symbols and how we organize them
will affect how others will interpret our messages.

Meaning is personally constructed. Everyone interprets things

in different ways based on their perceptions and backgrounds. This
is why we say that meanings are in people, not in words.

The emphasis on communication as a process is important because

this reminds us of a paradigm shift from the earlier understanding
of communication as a one-way, linear activity. The paradigm of
communication as a process emphasizes its being a two-way, multi-
dimensional activity.
50 Introduction to Development Communication

Elements of the Process

If we look at communication as a process, then we need to look at

its elements.

The elements in Berlos model of communication (1961) are most

quoted because his model is often used as the model of communi-
cation. Later, we will discuss other models. However, we can use
Berlos model as a benchmark because its elements are those com-
monly employed.

Let us look at each of these elements.


Source refers to a person or a group of persons with a purpose, a

reason for engaging in communication (Berlo, 1961). The source
initiates the communication process.

In some models of communication, the source is also referred to

as the encoder, sender, information source, or communicator.


The receiver is the person or group of persons at the other end of

the communication process. He/she is the target of communica-
tion (Berlo, 1961). The receiver listens when the source talks; the
receiver reads what the source writes.


A source must have something to transmit. His or her purpose is

expressed in the form of a message. The message may be an idea,
purpose, or intention that has been translated into a code or a sys-
tematic set of symbols (Berlo, 1961).
Unit II Chapter 5 51

A message has three factors: message code, message content,

and message treatment. Berlo defined message code as any
group of symbols that can be structured in a way that is meaningful
to some person. Thus, to Berlo, language is a code because it con-
tains elements (sounds, letters, and words) that are arranged in mean-
ingful orders (syntax).

Message content, on the other hand, is the material in the mes-

sage selected by the source to express his/her purpose. For ex-
ample, in a research paper or report, the message content includes
the writers assertions, information presented, and conclusions
drawn. Like message code, message content has elements (e.g., in-
formation) that must be presented in some order (structure).

Berlo defined message treatment as decisions that the commu-

nication source makes in selecting and arranging both code and
content. He further explained this by using the journalist as an
example. When a journalist writes an article, he makes decisions on
as the content he will include in his article, the angle of the story,
and the words he will use.


Berlo asserted that no other word in communication theory has

been so much used and abused as the word channel. He explained
that the channel has three major meanings:

1. modes of encoding and decoding messages;

2. message vehicles; and
3. vehicle carriers.

Let me try to explain this using a radio broadcast example.

When you hear a community broadcaster receive a live telephone

call from a farmer concerned about insects ruining his citrus trees,
then the broadcasters and farmers speaking mechanisms are chan-
nels or modes of encoding and decoding messages.
52 Introduction to Development Communication

Sound waves carry the message from the farmer to the broadcaster,
from the broadcaster to you. The sound waves are also channels.
This time, these channels are message-vehicles.

The sound waves are supported by air. The air serves as another
channel. Air is a vehicle-carrier.

Berlo explained that channels are determined by: availability, money,

source preferences, which channels are received by the most people
at the lowest cost, which channels have the most impact, which
channels are the most adaptable to the kind of purpose of the source,
and which channels are most adaptable to the content of the mes-


The effect is the outcome of a communication or the response of

the receiver to the message of the source. Often, it is the desired
outcome of the source. Sometimes, the effect is not the desired
outcomebut it is an outcome nevertheless.

An effect can be overt (obvious or visible) or covert (non-observ-

able). Overt responses include non-verbal cues such as nodding of
the head or signing of a contract. Covert responses may not be
observable but sometimes they are the most important. For ex-
ample, a farmer may refuse to join other farmers who will partici-
pate in a government program to reforest part of their community.
But, as an individual, he may appreciate the efforts done, resulting
in a change in his attitude toward similar future undertakings. Com-
munication can result in motivation or persuasion. It may lead to
awareness, interest, decision, or action. These are the traditional
effects attributed to communication.


In some models of communication, another elementfeedback is

introduced. Berlo (1960) explained when an individual communi-
Unit II Chapter 5 53

cates with himself, the messages he encodes are fed back into his
system by his decoder. This is feedback. In human communica-
tion, we constantly seek feedback. Thus, we check on our commu-
nication, on our messages, on what our receivers understand of our
message. A communication res-ponse is feedback to both source
and receiver.

When you speak at a convention, the responses and reaction of

your listeners give you an idea of how well they are receiving your
message. Feedback could take the form of simple non-verbal cues
or vocal, verbal responses to something you have done or said.

Levels of Communication

There are three levels of communication: intrapersonal, interper-

sonal, and mass communication.

Intrapersonal communication involves communication with

oneself. While this sounds odd, Im sure you would agree with me
that, at one time or another, we talk to ourselves before making
major decisions.

Interpersonal communication is often defined as face-to-face

communication. The problem with this definition is that it leads to
questions such as How many people can you communicate with
interpersonally at one time? And Is theater a form of interper-
sonal communication? What about puppetry? Talking over the
telephone? Thus, the definition of interpersonal communication
has evolved to person-to-person communication, a definition that
has been further expanded with new communication technologies
that allow one person to communicate with a room full of people
at one time but still on a person-to-person basis.
54 Introduction to Development Communication

Mass communication comprises the institutions and techniques

by which specialized groups employ technological devices (press,
radio, films, etc.) to disseminate symbolic content to large, hetero-
geneous, and widely dispersed audiences (Janowitz, 1968 and
McQuail, 1981). Others have simplified mass communication to
mean communicating with large groups of people at one time
through the use of mass media such as the press, radio, and film.

Communication Models

Why study communication models? I like to think of models as

simple descriptions or graphic forms of frozen reality. In other
words, when we speak of communication models, we are really
freezing the communication process, so we can better study or
explore it. McQuail and Windahl cite Deutsch (1966) who noted
three main advantages in the use of models in the social sciences:

1. Models organize by ordering and relating systems to each other

and by providing us with images of wholes that we might not
otherwise perceive. Thus a model can give a general picture of
a whole range of different circumstances (organizing func-

2. Models can help explain complicated or ambiguous informa-

tion (heuristic function).

3. Models make it possible to predict outcomes and the flow of

events (predictive function). At the least, they can provide a
basis for assigning probabilities to various alternative outcomes,
and hence for formulating hypotheses in research (McQuail
and Windahl, 1981).
Unit II Chapter 5 55

Before we go into the basic models of communication, a word

from McQuail and Windahl:

become aware of the possibilities of testing models

against circumstances or cases and of adapting any given
model to suit the chosen application. The models presented
are not so sacred that they cannot be easily given a some-
what different shape and formulation. It should become
apparent that anyone is in a position to construct his own
models of a given aspect of the communication process

Lasswells Model

Harold D. Lasswell was an American political scientist who wrote

an article in 1948 that began with A convenient way to describe an
act of communication is to answer the following question:

Says What,
In Which Channel,
To Whom,
With What Effect?

Lasswells model was the first real attempt among social scientists
to depict the communication process. However, it was later criti-
cized because:

1. The model took for granted that communication is mainly a

persuasive process, that the communicator always has some in-
tent to influence the receiver.
2. It omits the elements of feedback.

Despite these limitations (which were really a reflection of the un-

derstanding of communication during his time), this model remains
a convenient and comprehensive way of introducing people to
the study of communication.
56 Introduction to Development Communication

Shannon and Weavers Mathematical Model

Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver were engineers working for

the Bell Telephone Company when they developed a graphical
model of communication that they could apply to their field. This
model answered the questions: What kind of communication chan-
nel can bring through the maximum amount of signals? How much
of transmitted signs will be destroyed by noise under way from
transmitter to receiver? (McQuail and Windahl, 1981).

Despite the technical beginnings of this model, it is easy to see how

students of communication can apply this to human communica-

Message Signal Signal Message
Information Transmitter Receiver Destination


Figure 5-1. Shannon and Weaver Model

What do you notice about this model of communication? It is a

one-way, linear model that introduces the dysfunctional factor, noise.
In the technical aspect, noise is anything that disrupts transmission
of a signal. In the human communication context, noise is any-
thing that disrupts the smooth flow of communication.

Newcombs Model

So far, we have been looking at linear models or models that depict

communication following a line from Source to Receiver. Interest-
ingly enough, Newcombs model is triangular.

Fiske argues that Newcombs model is significant because it intro-

duces the role of communication in a society or social relationship.
To Newcomb, communication maintains equilibrium within a so-
cial system. Thus ABX represents a system. If A and B have similar
Unit II Chapter 5 57

attitudes about X, then the system is in equilibrium. Should their

attitudes differ, then there is no equilibrium and A and B must com-
municate to find a way to put their system in balance by arriving at
similar attitudes once again.


Figure 5-2. Newcomb Model

Can you think of an example where this model would apply in

everyday life? I know a farmer (A) and his wife (B) who are think-
ing of raising pigs in their backyard (X). The wife was not too en-
thusiastic at first because she did not want the noise and the mess.
They had many arguments and a few fights over this.

Then, the husband convinced his wife to talk to their extension

agent and some friends who are backyard swine growers. After many
months, she finally agreed to his plan and is happy with the addi-
tional income their backyard piggery has brought them. Once more,
their relationship is in a state of equilibrium.

Osgood and Schramms Model

The model of communication presented by Wilbur Schramm actu-

ally originated with Charles E. Osgood. Compare their model with
the Shannon-Weaver model.

This model focuses on the main actors of the processunlike the

Shannon and Weaver model, which focuses on the channels that
mediate between sender and receiver. Schramm and Osgood show
58 Introduction to Development Communication

the actors in communication to be equals who perform the identi-

cal tasks of encoding, interpreting, and decoding messages. Note
that the model does not fit the mold of traditional, one-way, linear
communication models, which clearly fix and separate the roles of
sender and receiver.


Encoder Decoder

Interpreter Interpreter

Decoder Encoder


Figure 5-3. Osgood and Schramm Model

The reason why this model required a cyclical representation was

explained by Schramm himself in 1954 (McQuail and Windahl,

it is misleading to think of the communication process

as starting somewhere and ending somewhere. It is really
endless. We are little switchboard centers handling and re-
routing the great endless current of information

However, note that while this model is useful in describing inter-

personal communication, it does not explain communication situa-
tions where there is little or no feedback (e.g., mass communica-
tion). Furthermore, it seems to connote a feeling of equality in
communication. Those of us who are experienced in this area know
all too well that a communication situation is often unbalanced in
terms of resources, power, and time.
Unit II Chapter 5 59

Gerbners Model

George Gerbner introduced another linear model. Fiske (1982)

explains that Gerbners model is a more complex version of Shan-
non and Weavers. It is unique in that it allows us to see the commu-
nication process as one that consists of two alternating dimen-
sionsthe perceptual or receptive, and the communicating or means
and control dimension.

The Gerbner model underwent several modifications but the ver-

sion of this model that is shown below gives the elements of his

Selection Content
E Availability E1
Event Percept

Access to

S O T E Selection Content Perceptor
R E Availability
M N Statement about
T event

Figure 5-4. Gerbner Model

What does this model demonstrate? Actually, it demonstrates a pro-

cess whereby an event (E) takes place and is perceived by M (hu-
man or machine like a camera). Ms perception of the event is per-
cept E1and here begins the perceptual dimension that starts the
process. Once percept E1 is converted into a signal about the event
(SE), we have a message or statement about E.
60 Introduction to Development Communication

Then, we move into the vertical dimension of the model. The circle
is divided into two: S (signal) and E (content). Because content can
be communicated in different ways, there are many potential Ss to
choose from. The communicator then must make a crucial deci-
sion: how to find the best signal for the content. Fiske reminds us
that SE is a unified concept, not two separate areas brought to-
gether. Thus, the choice of signal will affect the presentation of
the content.

In the third stage of the mode, we move once more into the hori-
zontal dimension. What the receiver, M2, perceives is not an event
(E). Rather, M2 receives a signal statement about the event (SE).
Drawing upon his or her needs and concepts from his or her cul-
ture, M2 finds meaning in the message.

What do you notice about this model? Do you see the important
role that Gerbner has assigned to perception in the communication
of meaning and messages?

Westley and MacLeans Model

Fiske (1982) believes that the social need for information also un-
derlies the Westley and MacLean model of communication. He looks
upon the 1957 model as an extension of Newcombs 1953 model.
However, the Westley and MacLean model was created with the
mass media in mind. Thus, while it is rooted in Newcombs ABX
model, it has a new element: C.

C represents the editorial-communicating function or the process

one undergoes in deciding what and how to communicate some-
thing. Fiske uses the example of a news reporter to explain this
model. Lets use it too as it may be familiar to you. The reporter (A)
sends his story to the newsroom or C. In the newsroom, editing
takes place and the edited product is transmitted to his readers (B).
Unit II Chapter 5 61

x3 x2 x11

Figure 5-5. Westley and MacLean Model

Just like in mass media, the reader (B) has lost touch with A and C.
They have no direct relationship with each other. Can you see why
this communication model is specific to mass communication?

Berlos Model

Perhaps the most well-known (certainly one of the most cited) model
of communication is David Berlos model of communication. Like
the other linear models, Berlo delineates the different actors of the
communication process and the elements that mediate between
them. His model began as the SMCR model (Source Message Chan-
nel Receiver).

When he added the element of effect, it became the SMCRE model

of communication. However, in his book the Process of Commu-
nication (1961), he also discusses the element of feedback, leading
some communicators to depict his model as follows:


Figure 5-6. Berlo Model
62 Introduction to Development Communication

Dances Helical Model

McQuail and Windahl (1981) included Dances helical model of

communication in their book because they looked at it as an inter-
esting development of the Osgood and Schramm model.

The circular model of communication

(e.g., Osgood and Schramms model)
suggest that communication is circular,
that it goes full circle to the same point
from which it started. The helical model,
however, portrays the communication
process more accuratelyin that it
shows the communication process as
Figure 5-7. Helical Model moving.

Dances model shows the dynamism of the communication pro-

cess. It gives the notion that man, when communicating, is active,
creative, and able to store information. McQuail and Windahl (1981)
suggest that the model may be used to illustrate information gaps
and the thesis that knowledge tends to create more knowledge.
Thus, it illustrates situations wherein a teacher can assume that each
lecture adds to his students knowledge, helping them to become
successively better informed. Thus, his new lectures can build on
that knowledge.

Kincaids Convergence Model

In 1981, D. Lawrence Kincaid brought forth his Convergence Model

of Communication. As illustrated in Figure 5-8, it shows a process
of convergence through which participants share information so
that mutual understanding is reached.
Unit II Chapter 5 63


Express Interpret
Participant A Participant B
Interpret Express
and t
and I2

Figure 5-8. Convergence Model

Kincaids model shows the communication process as one in which

mutual understanding is reached through information that cuts
through uncertainty. Once mutual understanding is reached, there
is mutual agreement. Based on that mutual agreement, collective
action can be taken (Rogers and Kincaid, 1981).


As a process, communication is ongoing, cyclic, ever changing, with

no beginning and no end. The elements of the process are interde-
pendent and interrelated. These elements are the source, message,
receiver, channel, effect, and feedback. However, in the communi-
cation models designed to explain this process, not all these
elements are present. In other models, these elements are given
equivalents or called by other names (e.g., channel = transmitter or
64 Introduction to Development Communication

These models reflect trends in communication theory:

1. Communication is a process (Berlo, 1961).

2. Communication is a transaction. When people communicate,
they continually offer definitions of themselves to their per-
ceived definitions of the others (Stewart, 1990); and
3. Communication is a convergence of mutual understanding.
(Rogers and Kincaid, 1981).

Whichever trend you adhere to, it is clear that communication takes

place on three levelsintrapersonal, interpersonal, and mass com-
munication. People cannot NOT communicate.


Berlo, D. (1960). The process of communication. New York: Holt,

Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Chandler, D. The transmission model of communication. Accessed 26 April
2006 from
De Fleur, M.L. and Dennis, E.E. (1981). Understanding mass commu-
nication. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Kincaid, D.L. (1978). The convergence model of communication. Hono-
lulu: East-West Center.
Fiske, J. (1982). Introduction to communication studies. Chaucer Press:
Johns Hopkins University. (1997). Handouts in Communication.
Lasswell, Harold D. (1948). The structure and function of commu-
nication in society. The Communication of Ideas. Bryson and
Lyman, Eds. New York: Harper.
McQuail, D. and Windahl, S. (1981). Models of communication. New
York: Longman, Inc.
Chapter 6

I n the previous chapters, we took a look at the overall process of

communication. This chapter will focus on the media of com-
munication, the advantages and limitations of each, and how they
are used.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Give the advantages and limitations of the various com-
munication media;
2. Explain how the various media are used; and
3. Discuss the implications of new communication tech-
nology on development.
66 Introduction to Development Communication

Nature and Characteristics

Before we go into the nature and characteristics of specific mass

media, lets look at the interpersonal media and mass media first.

Table 6.1. Interpersonal media and mass media

Characteristics Intepersonal Mass media


Senses stimulated All senses Limited to one or

at a time two
Opportunity for Maximum, Minimum, delayed
feedback immediate
Control of pace Controllable Uncontrolled
Message codes used Verbal and Highly verbal
Multiplicative power Slow Fast
Direction of message Two-way One-way
Message accuracy Low High
Power to preserve a Low High
Ability to select High Low
Ability to overcome High Low
selectivity and noise
Ability to meet Serves Serves common
specialized needs specialized needs
Speed to a large Low High
Possible effects Attitude and Knowledge gain
action change
Unit II Chapter 6 67

From the table, it is easy to see why interpersonal communication

media are more suitable in some situations than mass media chan-
nels. Whats a good example of this?

In a science classroom situation where students need immediate

feedback, an interpersonal channel such as a lab instructor will be
able to fill this need much better than a mass media channel such as
a video tape and video playback system. The instructor is better
able to encourage two-way discussion with participants, control the
pace of learning, meet specialized needs (e.g., draw out the shy stu-
dents), and move them to a quieter/cooler room when needed (i.e.,
ability to overcome noise).

On the other hand, mass media channels reach out faster to large
groups in times of emergency. Radio and TV have a special role to
play during times of man-made calamity, natural disaster, or na-
tional crisis.

Have you watched the movie Gallipoli? Its about a group of Aus-
tralian soldiers who fought in World War I in Turkey. Dug-in in
endless trenches, the only way for their leaders to communicate
with each other was to use a runnera soldier chosen for his speed
and endurance. Unfortunately, a very important message failed to
reach one of the generals because the runner didnt make it on
time. The result? Great loss of lives. I have often wondered how
many lives could have been saved if they had, at least, a two-way

Furthermore, because of mass medias power to accurately pre-

serve a message, they have become important tools in the docu-
mentation of scientific data. Even in the social sciences, the mass
media have become indispensable. Can you think of examples?

Well, tribal groups with an oral tradition pass on their history around
campfires or as they trek across kilometers of forest land. This tra-
dition is altered or lost as the people who preserve it die or fail to
68 Introduction to Development Communication

accurately pass on the stories from their past. Now, anthropologists

can get all these down on video and prepare a written history avail-
able to all and preserved for generations to come.

The important thing to remember in all this is that, we should un-

derstand the strengths and weaknesses of both interpersonal and
mass media so that we can decide when to use one and skip the
other (or use both!) in any given communication situation.

A quick look at data from the Philippine Information Agency will

show that radio still tops the list as the most relied upon, most used,
and most depended on for current events/issues (PIA, 1997). Of
course, these are national averages. With this in mind, let us pro-
ceed with our discussion of the advantages and limitations of the
mass media most commonly used in development communication.


Radio is available in almost all countries, reaching mass audiences

cheaply and rapidly (Barghouti, 1973). Among its advantages, ra-

1. is available and affordableeven in remote communities

2. can repeat messages at low cost
3. reaches illiterate audiences
4. supports other communication channels
5. announces events and developments as they happen
6. is flexible in style (ranging from drama to lectures, folk songs to
7. creates awareness and sets agenda of priorities for peoples at-

On the other hand, among its main disadvantages are that radio

1. illustrate complicated technical concepts

2. gauge immediate audience reaction, participation, or interest in
messages broadcast
Unit II Chapter 6 69

3. provide or respond to immediate feedback

4. repeat messages upon demand
5. pace itself according to audience needs
6. overcome some geographical barriers (such as high mountain
ranges) to reach the remotest communities.

Because of these limitations, development communication depends

more often on community radio stations that prepare broadcasts
for specific audience groups. These community radio stations cover
local events, explain and promote local projects and development
efforts. At the same time, these stations continue to provide some
national coverage, striving all the time to strike a balance between
national and local coverage.

Radyo DZLB, the community broadcasting station run by the Col-

lege of Development Communication of UP Los Baos, is a prime
example of a community radio station. It is a forerunner of the
school-on-the-air (SOA) concept that provides nonformal educa-
tion for rural folk. DZLB has hosted SOAs on nutrition, pest man-
agement, and cooperatives. The enrollees listen to broadcasts and
take quizzes and exams. Those who successfully complete an SOA
are given a certificate or diploma.

Who runs DZLB? A skeletal staff of CDC technicians and broad-

cast personnel run the station, but cooperators from government
agencies and NGOs broadcast its programs. Many of these coop-
erators are from the Los Baos community.

The UNESCO Tambuli projects have placed radio transmitters in

small communities in an effort to provide a community medium
for the exchange and dissemination of important community in-
formation. Tambuli radio stations are an example of narrow cast-
ing where the broadcast area is the size of a small to medium sized
community. The residents pick up the broadcasts over their regular
radio units but the information they receive is highly tailored to
their knees as well as those of their communities.
70 Introduction to Development Communication

Another broadcast effort is the Community Audio Tower System

or CATS, which was part of a FAO-UNESCO project implemented
by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural
Resources Research and Development (PCARRD). Here, partici-
pating communities received karaoke sets hooked up to four loud
speakers attached to a high pole outside the barangay hall. Devel-
opment programs are then broadcast through this system, reaching
the barangays and some nearby communities.

The community broadcasting effort with an unusual twist was the

project Enabling Rural Women to Participate in Development: The
Case of Womens Radio Philippines. Sponsored by the International
Development Research Center, the project equipped rural women
to participate in development broadcasting.

Trained to produce their own radio programs, the project enabled

the women to convey information about their needs, problems,
values, and attitudes. More than this, it gave them a venue to ex-
plore their views and suggestions on how to solve their problems.

It is important to note that in these and similar efforts, develop-

ment communicators equip the people of participating communi-
ties to run and manage the equipment as well as write and produce
the programs. This helps ensure the localization of the programs
and gives the people of the communities a sense of ownership and
control over the medium.


The beauty of television lies in its ability to communicate or ex-

plain complicated messages because of its combination of sound
and picture (Barghouti, 1975). Among the mass media, it is the
closest to face-to-face communication and is successful in reaching
out to both literate and illiterate audiences.

The main disadvantage, of course, is accessibility and availability.

In areas where television sets are available, reception may be poor.
Unit II Chapter 6 71

On the other hand, in areas where reception is good, a poor family

may have no access to a television set. In the Tarlac area, I have
seen TV antennas hoisted high above houses on bamboo poles that
sway with the wind.

Other disadvantages include (Barghouti, 1975):

1. Educational/development shows face severe competition from

entertainment programs.
2. Preparation of development communication programs for TV
requires much planning, preparation, technical, creative, and
communication skills than for other media.
3. It costs plenty of money to produce and air TV programs.

With these disadvantages, what are the options for development

communication? Right now, development communicators have two
options: (1) educate staff of national television stations so that they
can find ways of using TV for development purposes, and (2) ex-
plore local television alternatives such as community cable stations.

Option 2 would best offer an opportunity to document and pro-

vide information on local problems and issues. Some of my under-
graduate advisees have done research on whether cable subscribers
would be willing to watch cable programs that focus specifically on
their community. The majority said yesand even offered to help
out (Balandanan, 1995).


Philippine Information Agency data show that fewer Filipinos read

the newspapers than listen to the radio or watch TV. Nevertheless,
development communication uses newspapers because, according
to Barghouti (1973), they can present technical data in clearly de-
signed text and provide detailed information. Furthermore, he feels
that important topics can be covered in a series of articles. News-
papers are still influential in creating awareness and mobilizing public
opinion. And, like other print media, articles can be shared or kept
as reference materials.
72 Introduction to Development Communication

What are the disadvantages of newspapers in dev com work? One

glaring disadvantage is that its audience is limited to those who can
read. Furthermore, current prices make a newspaper relatively ex-
pensive. Also, it represents one-way communication as feedback is
difficult to monitor. With the high cost of production, it is difficult
for small communities or businesses to publish newspapers.

The UPLB College of Development Communication has been in-

volved in helping barangays put up their own community newspa-
pers. In our experience, sustainability of the enterprise is the big-
gest problem. After funding dwindles, volunteer editors and report-
ers are left to run a newspaper without money for supplies or print-

Can these be made self-sustaining? Perhaps in areas where small

businesses are willing to pay for advertising, or in areas where people
are willing to pay more to read local news than to read national


We would all agree with Barghouti (1973) that cinema has the power
to catch attention, reach big audiences, can be relatively cheap to
show, and can reach even the lowest strata in most developing coun-
tries. In some countries, it can be expensive to view and any educa-
tional messages may end up buried in a plot that is primarily meant
to be entertaining. For us, to use cinema as a medium would require
much time and money. The film should have popular appeal, can
be inexpensively distributed, and yet clearly contain developmental

Folk Theater

A few months ago, I met a painter from Milan, Italy. She is based in
Los Baos with her husband, an anthropologist attached to an in-
Unit II Chapter 6 73

ternational R&D institution there. Anyway, she was part of a folk

theater group when they lived in the mountains of Peru before
moving to the Philippines.

In the village where she lived, folk theater was part of community
life. In that sense, its presentation was culturally relevant, easily avail-
able (when needed, they were ready to perform), and inexpensive
(they made and maintained their own costumes and masks).

Barghouti points out, however, that the use of folk theater also has
its disadvantages: performers can lose control of their development
messages and format can detract from content. He suggests that
folk theater can be used in combination with a modern medium
like television or supported by loud speakers.

A few years ago, I was part of a National Commission on Culture

project implemented through the Philippine Association of Com-
munication Educators. Entitled Annotated listing of audio-video
recordings of cultural activities, the project sought to make a com-
prehensive listing of cultural activities recorded on audio or video-

At least in Laguna, very few cultural activities are actually recorded.

Even if they are, they are erased so that the next years activities
could be recorded. What a waste of cultural information!

Wall Painting and Billboards

Barghouti (1975) points out that while these are potentially avail-
able to large audiences and can mean less cost per person if well
located, they are also easily ignored and are limited to the dissemi-
nation of simple messages. Thus, if they are to be used in develop-
ment communication, we must ensure that the messages are well
designed and pretested. Sites must be carefully selected to ensure
the message will reach the people for whom it is intended.
74 Introduction to Development Communication

Other Media

Barghouti (1975) also lists other media that are useful in the dis-
semination of development messages. He lists their main advan-
tages and disadvantages, then comments on how they can be best
used for development purposes. The next table (Table 6.2) is based
on a compilation prepared by Johns Hopkins University staff (for
their training course on Strategic Communication Planning for Fam-
ily Health) from Barghoutis list.

These include video fora, filmstrips, slides, flipcharts, and flannel

Table 6.2. Advantages and disadvantages of using various media

Unit II
Media Main advantages Main disadvantages Comments

Video Can be used to introduce new ideas Expensive Fora require continuing
Forum to selected audiences, microteach, Breakdown in hardware is common attention from profes-
introduce complicated concepts and expensive sional organization. They
and technical issues in a series of Hardware is required (i.e., monitor are most successful in
presentations, record field opera- and playback system) small group learning.
tions and use them later, teach Group discussion leaders
skills (after or before video is
Can be handled by farmers and shows) must be carefully
community leaders selected and trained.
Can become part of a library for It is most efficient when
teaching adult education classes used in combination with
print materials at the end
of the discussion.
It should be used to teach
special skills, for
structured instruction,

Chapter 6
and as a tool to generate
participation among rural

Table 6.2 continued

Media Main advantages Main disadvantages Comments

Films Use of sight and sound attract Good films are rare Best if combined with dis-
audience attention Equipment is costly to buy and cussion groups
Can make great emotional appeal maintain Audience must be encou-
to large audiences Requires skill in running film raged to evaluate film
projector Use film to stimulate

Introduction to Development Communication

Filmstrips Much cheaper and easier to work Usually visual medium only (no Can record and play
with than films audio) commentary
Easily made from local photographs Not as dramatic as motion picture Strip can be cut up and
Encourage discussion Could be expensive individual pictures
Difficult to jump from one frame mounted as 2 slides to
to another allow arrangement and

Slides Have all the advantages of film Could be expensive Should be used after care-
strips plus more flexibility Difficult to have them on all subjects ful preparation of logical
Can be used in a seies to illustrate to be taught sequence and good
a concept commentary
Table 6.2 continued

Unit II
Media Main advantages Main disadvantages Comments

Flannel Can be portable and mobile Can be used only for what it is Very useful but only for
board Can be prepared by expert in prepared prepared talks
advance Cannot adapt to changing interest Should be used to show
Little skill required in actual operation of group step-by-step process
Can be used to make presentation More elaborate than equipment Flannel material should be
more dynamic Difficult to keep up to date numbered according to
order of presentation

Bulletin Striking, graphic, informative, flexible, Requires preparation and attention Should be combined with
board replaces local newspapers to community needs maps, talks, and photo-
Keeps community up-to-date with graphs
information Very suitable for posting
articles, announcements
and news of develop
ments in the community

Flip charts Cheap and simple Soon torn Should not be overlooked

Chapter 6
Can be stopped at will for analysis Can only be seen by a few at a time for illustration of simple
Can be prepared locally Can be difficult to illustrate compli- sequencesespecially
Ideas could be illustrated in sequence cated ideas with small groups
Illustrations on flip chart could be used Lecturers should be pre-
many times for different pared in advance for use

audiences in different sessions on several occasions
Table 6.2 continued

Media Main advantages Main disadvantages Comments

Models, Appeal to several senses Not many workers can build them Useful models and exhibitions
charts, Can be used on various occasions or use them properly could be built up locally
displays and situations Should be used in familiar
Can illustrate ideas in detail places and centers

Maps, Visual appeal May mislead by over simplification Should be made especially
charts, Should simplify details Create transport and storage for groups
diagrams Permit leisurely study problem May need careful explana-
Can develop sequence on display tion first

Introduction to Development Communication

boards Could be used as summary
of information
Symbols and layout should
be familiar to the audience

Black- Flexible tool Requires some manipulation skill Should be essential in

board Easy to make and use (which can be quickly acquired) every group
Can be very attractive if used Requires teaching skills to make Very useful for schematic
properly best use summaries, talk, discussion
Use of colored chalks can add to Audience can participate
visual appeal Small blackboards can be
Can be portable portable
Writing should be clear and
Unit II
Table 6.2 continued

Media Main advantages Main disadvantages Comments

Publica- Excellent for in-depth presentations Expensive Should be used to support

tions and of issues and technical information Can only be effective if well special campaigns, such as
leaflets Can cover more than one topic designed and produced literacy and adult education
Easy reference and can be directed Poorly printed publication may be Most useful if topics are
to specific audiences less expensive but not be read covered in a series of
Can be illustrated and made Require special editing, design, pubications
attractive and production skills Could be used successfully
Can support other media for edu- Distribution can be difficult and in group discussions and as
cation purposes expensive backup for public meetings
Can be used for in-service
training of field staff and to
keep up morale (i.e., if field
staff are widely dispersed)

Chapter 6
80 Introduction to Development Communication

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

There are many new information and communication technologies

(ICT) being generated, that it is difficult to keep track of them all.
However, the following is a table adapted from Markens Office
Systems (1990). It should give you an idea of when to use these
relatively old ICT.

Table 6.3. Presentation media compared

Media Image Audience Cost Ease of

Quality Size Preparation

Photos Good- 2-20 Low Easy

very good
Slides Very good 20-200 Low Very easy
Overhead Good- 2-200 Low Very easy
projector very good
Video monitors Good 2-50 Medium Easy-fair
Hi resolution TV Very good 2-100 High Fair
LCD screen Poor 2-20 High Easy
Video projection Good 20-200 High Fair
Film Very good 2-200 High Diffiucult
CompuGraphics Very good 2-200 High Easy-fair


Each medium used in development communication has advantages

and limitations. It is important for us as students of development
communication to understand when and how to use these media to
best achieve our objectives. Furthermore, it is important that we
understand information and communication technologies so that
we are able to (1) use them for the benefit of society, (2) equip
others and ourselves, and (3) prepare for their influence/impacts
on our work.
Unit II Chapter 6 81


Barghouti, S.M. (1973). Reaching rural families in East Africa. Nairobi:

Gomez, E.D. (1993). Enabling Rural Women to Participate in De-
velopment. The case of womens radio (Philippines). IDC Faculty
Paper Series. IDC: Los Baos.
Gross, N. (1997). Into the wild frontier. Business Week. New York:
McGraw Hill Companies.
Johns Hopkins University. (1997). Pros and cons of different media,
materials, and techniques for communication support. Handout for Stra-
tegic Communication for Family Health Training.
Marken, G.A. (1990). Visual aids strengthen in-house presentations. Of-
fice Systems.
Morino Institute. (1995). The promise and challenge of a new communica-
tion Age. Accessed 26 April 2006 from
Philippine Information Agency Media Studies Division. (1996).
Philippine Media Profile. Quezon City: PIA.
Chapter 7


E ven the most experienced communicators among us have been

misunderstood at one time or another. Distortions in message,
misinformation, lack of informationthese are but some of the
barriers to effective communication. As students of communica-
tion, we are concerned about the fidelity or clarity of the message
we transmit and receive. Thus, this chapter is designed as a review
of the factors that limit effective communicationnot only to re-
mind us of how communication can be hampered but also to allow
us to respond effectively to situations where such barriers can be
avoided or overcome.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Explain why a communicator must understand the dif-
ferent barriers to effective communication;
2. List some physical, psychological-cultural, and social bar-
riers to effective communication;
3. Define competent communication; and
4. Cite examples of how a competent communicator can
overcome the various barriers to effective communication.
84 Introduction to Development Communication

A Second Look at Effective Communication

Do you recall our discussion on effective communication? Berlo

(1961) explained effect as the difference between what a receiver
thinks, feels, and does before and after exposure to a message. Thus,
effect is best expressed in behavioral terms.

In any communication situation, the communicator has one or more

purposes: to gain attention, understanding, or acceptance; or to elicit
action. Jamias used the following formula to explain the factors
that contribute to effective communication:

E = Sc + Mc + Cc + Rc + Re

Where: E is effect
Sc is characteristics of the source
Mc is characteristics of the message
Cc is characteristics of the channel
Rc is characteristics of the receiver
Re is the resource available to the receiver


Has any of this ever happened to you?

1. In the middle of an important meeting, the phone rings insis-

tently. Group focus is disrupted.

2. While rushing to revise a paper whose deadline was yesterday,

the electricity goes off and you lose half of what you have
already typed in the computer.

3. Youre explaining a procedure to a group of new freshmen who

look like nothing youve said so far has made sense to them.
Unit II Chapter 7 85

These are all examples of NOISE. In Chapter 5, we defined noise

as anything that distorts or interferes with the communication pro-
cess. Noise can be blatantly disruptive as static over the telephone
lines, blaring of the radio, or the incessant honking of car horns
outside your window. But as communicators, we must also be on
the look out for noise that may creep unobserved (and unavoided)
into everyday communication situations such as negative first im-
pressions, cultural differences, undiagnosed learning deficiencies,
and others.

Classifying Communication Barriers

In Chapter 5, we said the Shannon and Weaver introduced the ele-

ment of noise in the communication process. However, some com-
munication scientists believe that this model is a prototype of a
transmissive model of communication. In other words, it reduced
communication to a process of transmitting information.

The element of noise, which is integral to the model, is a dysfunc-

tional factor. In other words, noise is any interference with the
message traveling along the channelwhich may lead to the signal
received being different from that sent (Chandler, n.d.).

Shannon and Weaver argued that there were three levels of prob-
lems of communication:

1. Technical problems how accurately the message can be

2. Semantic problems how precisely the meaning is conveyed
3. Effectiveness problems how effectively does the received
message affect behavior

These problems of communication form the three levels of com-

munication barriers.
86 Introduction to Development Communication

Problems of Effectiveness

When you translate a publication from one language to another,

you face a semantic problem. You cannot be sure of how accu-
rately you translate the thoughts of the original publication.

Often, there are nuances of the original language that are lost in the
translation. This is why we often hear that translations are seldom
as good as their originals.

Problems of effectiveness are faced by most of us, especially those

involved in persuasive communication. We can never know defi-
nitely whether our purpose in communicating is achieved.
When an editor makes comments, he or she does so for a specific
purpose. Perhaps this purpose would be to make a piece of writing
more concise or precise. Unless the writer responds to the editors
comments, then no amount of comments, suggestions, or recom-
mendations will result in a more concise copy.

Finally, technical problems relate most closely to the channel or

medium of communication used. Technical problems can cause
misunderstanding or miscommunication such as radio static or bad
cellular phone signals.

The problems of communication that Chandler refers to are, for

our purposes, barriers to effective communication.

Are there other ways of classifying barriers to communication? Some

scientists group CCC barriers to effective communication into three:
physical barriers, psychological-cultural barriers, and social
barriers. Environmental factors or conditions and channel noise
would fall under physical barriers (factors external to the commu-
nication but influencing it nonetheless). On the other hand, seman-
tic noise and some of the socio-psychological barriers would be
psychological-cultural barriers (factors within the receiver and/or
source that influence perception of meanings). Many of the other
Unit II Chapter 7 87

socio-psychological barriers would all fall under social barriers

those that arise from the communicators role and stature within a

Because of some overlaps among psychological-cultural barriers,

we will be using the more specific classification of channel noise,
environmental factors/conditions, semantic noise, and socio-psy-
chological barriers.

Channel Noise

Why are static, wrong spelling, letters too small to read, a computer
diskette with ruined sectors, and dead air on the radio considered
channel noise? All of these affect the channel, medium, or instru-
ment used in transmitting a message. In turn, they affect the fidelity
of the message. Fidelity, of course, means that the message received
was faithful to the one sent.

Environmental Factors

These barriers are present in the environment in which a commu-

nication takes place. They are external to the communication pro-
cess but may create conditions under which communication effec-
tiveness is hampered.

Uncomfortable sitting arrangements, rooms that are too hot, wall

paper that is too bright, meeting right after lunchall these are
environmental factors.

Semantic Noise

Semantic noise happens when a message is received as sent but

the meaning received was different from the meaning sent. It oc-
curs mostly in the receivers mind. It is a function of how the mes-
sage has been structured in the first place. Semantic noise occurs
88 Introduction to Development Communication

when we use, hear, or read words with double meanings. For many
years, the word gay meant happy or joyful. These days, however, we
use it carefully for although it is spelled the same, its meaning has
changed when used in various contexts.

Language is a wonderful thing for it serves as a bridge between

peoples and cultures. Yet language can also serve as a barrier in
cases when one word can mean one thing in one culture and mean
something totally different in another culture.

Socio-psychological barriers

Emotional blocks, charisma, stereotyping, first impressions, and

absent-mindedness all constitute socio-psychological barriers.

Pfeiffer (1973) explained that a charismatic person can often make

a trivial message seem new and important. However, this can be
detrimental because the receiver may become less likely to question
or clarify the message. Negative first impressions can eventually be
a detriment to effective communication.

Stereotyping means judging people before you know all the facts
about them. We stereotype groups of people, believing that they
have certain characteristics common among members of each group.
Thus, even as we have stereotypes for men and women, we also
have stereotypes for people from different nations or different re-
gions of our country. A Dutch missionary told me once that the
Dutch are known in Europe for their frugality and hard work. Just
like, he felt, the Iloconos and Boholanons here in the Philippines.

Other Barriers

Ethnocentrism is viewing a group or culture as superior to all oth-

ers. To some degree, this trait affects all of us.

Past experiences may form another type of barrier. We interpret

messages from the context of our experiences. Most of the time,
Unit II Chapter 7 89

this tendency helps us respond appropriately to stimuli. However,

at times, negative experiences make us dysfunctional. Furthermore,
when we receive a message that contradicts with our experiences or
challenges our views, we react with disbelief, rejection, distortion,
or misinterpretation.

As communicators, we should not perceive these barriers as prob-

lems. Rather, we should perceive them as challenges that can be
overcomefor in overcoming these barriers, we take one giant step
towards achieving effective communication.

Communication Competence

Earlier in the chapter, we noted that some barriers to communica-

tion actually exist in the Source or Receiver. Barring physical limita-
tions such as blindness, deafness, or speech impairments, such bar-
riers can actually be overcome if we are aware that they exist.

Rothwell (1992) noted that knowing what constitutes human com-

munication does not automatically make you an effective commu-
nicator. He points out that one must first understand what it means
to communicate competently.

Qualities of a Competent Communicator

Rothwell noted that competence is a judgment of an individuals

proficiency in a particular set of circumstances. He then went on
to explain that though no one definition of communication com-
petence exists, most communicators would agree on at least three
points. These are:

1. They have a We-not-Me Orientation.

2. They understand communication effectiveness.
3. They have a sense of appropriateness.

Let us look at each of these more closely.

90 Introduction to Development Communication

They have a We-not-Me Orientation

Considering the transactional nature of communication, compe-

tency should be viewed in terms of relationships with others. People
who work well in a group are often more competent in achieving
communication goals than those who do not.

They understand communication effectiveness

Communication competence is measured by results. Thus, some-

one who knows what changes in communication behavior need to
be made, want to make these changes, but never does, can hardly
be deemed a competent communicator (Rothwell, 1992).

They have a sense of appropriateness

A competent communicator must have a sense of context. In other

words, avoid violating social or interpersonal norms, rules or ex-
pectations (Spitzberg and Cupach, 1989 in Rothwell, 1992). The
way you act at work is certainly different from the way you act in
church or in a favorite restaurant.

Components of Communication Competence

Who comes to mind when you think of an example of a compe-

tent communicator? Through the years, I have met many people I
would consider competent communicators. And they dont fit a
single mold. Some have PhDs; others have never finished elemen-
tary school. Some speak perfect English, others cannot even read
or write it. Perhaps now its time to define what competent com-
munication is.

Rothwell explained that there are many definitions of communica-

tion competence. For example, he cited the following:

1. Littlejohn and Jabusch (1982) who perceived communication

competence as the ability and willingness of an individual to
Unit II Chapter 7 91

participate responsibly in a transaction in such a way as to maxi-

mize the outcome of shared meanings.

2. Trenhold (1988) who defined it as the ability to communicate

in a personally effective and socially appropriate manner.

3. Adler and Towne (1990) who viewed it as the ability to get

what you are seeking from others in a manner that maintains
the relationship on terms acceptable to both you and the other

He then went on to note that Littlejohn and Jabusch (1982) had

identified four basic components of communication competence -
process understanding, communication skills, interpersonal sensi-
tivity, and ethical responsibility. Furthermore, he explained that
Shockley-Zalabak (1988) modified these into four easily remem-
bered elements - knowledge, skills, sensitivity, and values. All of
them would agree on four elements of communication competence.

Rothwell (1992) discussed each of Shockley-Zalabaks four elements

of communication competence as follows:


Knowing what to do, when to do it, and how to do it is the first

basic element of communication competence. Some people are great
at small talk that eases tight communication situation. Others know
when to keep quiet and when to speak up.

I remember a few years ago, one of my undergraduate advisees

worked as a community volunteer in one of the Universitys out-
reach programs. Her supervisor praised her, telling me that she
seemed to have an innate knowledge of how to communicate with
different groups of people. Even tribal communities, so often wary
of outsiders, took to her almost immediately. She proved to be a
very valuable human resource in breaking through psychological-
cultural barriers.
92 Introduction to Development Communication


This refers to the ability to demonstrate your knowledge in actual

situations (Rothwell, 1992). Communication skills, both verbal and
nonverbal, are intrinsic to the success of any individual.

Ive had some students who got high paying jobs - not because they
graduated with honorsbut because they knew how to use inter-
personal communication skills to their advantage.


Rothwell explains that competent communicators must be sensi-

tive to the consequences of the communication choices they make.
These choices include what a situation requires, what relationships
they have with others in a group, and what are the goals of the
communicator in the light of the groups goals.


You probably can guess what this refers to. Rothwell emphasizes
that the predominant value of the competent communicator is
the desire to avoid previous mistakes and find better ways of com-
munication with group members.

Commitment to better communicationthis is what we as com-

municators should share. Does this explanation help you in defin-
ing competent communication? Do you believe you are a compe-
tent communicator?

Identifying and Breaking Down Barriers

Lets start with the physical barriers...

1. The mountains. These prevent effective radio and TV trans-

mission. They also make it difficult for outsiders to contact the
Unit II Chapter 7 93

Solution for TV:

Use a higher antenna or a satellite dish. If the television is used
for purely entertainment or educational purposes, then perhaps,
a VHS player might come in handy.

Solution for radio:

Explore possibilities for narrow casting (broadcasting in a small
area of reception) from broadcasting facilities within the vil-
lage. Or, for entertainment or educational purposes, explore
use of audiotapes.

Solution for inaccessibility:

Find ways to facilitate exchange between the village and out-

2. Blindness. Blind man doesnt know hes not allowed to beg

there because he cant read the sign.

Someone better tell him - and soon. But as communicators, we
should be aware that we dont often consider the physical prob-
lems of our receivers that may hamper effective communica-

3. It is too hot under the tree and the flies are bothering the chil-
dren. They cant listen to their teacher.

Move them to some place cool where the flies wont bother
them. Spray the flies?

Now lets look at the psychological-cultural barriers

1. The tourist failed to bow in front of the temple.

Brief people who are new in a place about customs and tradi-
94 Introduction to Development Communication

2. The other tourist insists on taking pictures when the children

dont want her to.

Again, inform new comers of group norms. Suggest sensitivity
to a new situation; dont insist on what you want.

3. Villagers are laughing at the tourist.

Well, stereotypes and ethnocentrism are the most difficult to
break. Time and understanding eventually break these down.

4. Illiteracy

Get someone to read for them. Or, initiate a literacy program.
Or, dont use print media for an illiterate audience.

Now for social barriers

1. The wealthy villagers wont have anything to do with the

poorer villagers.

Reach out and educate.

Failure to Listen

As a teacher, I have always believed that one of the greatest barri-

ers to effective communication is an individuals failure to listen.
Listening is a skill that one develops over time. Im sure many of
my colleagues would agree. This is why in some of my classes, I
give my student a listening test made up of 10 questions. I read the
questions just once. They arent allowed to ask questions or discuss
these with their classmate.
Unit II Chapter 7 95

For example, I ask them the question: How many animals did Moses
have on the ark with him? What would you answer?

As you can imagine, everything goes downhill from there. I have

had students argue about the number of animals - totally missing
the point that it was Noah who ended up stranded on the ark with
animals of different shapes and sizes! The problem is, we hear but
we do not listen. Listening is a skill that needs to be developed.
Thus, I am listing 10 barriers to effective communication that I
learned at a training course I attended in Lucca, Italy a few years
ago. Read through the list and see how many of them you can
relate with. You may want to mark (with a pen or highlighter) those
which you find are particularly troublesome in your field of work.

Barriers to Effective Listening

What follows is a list of barriers to effective listening and suggested


Barrier 1:
Many people assume in advance that the message communicated will be unin-
teresting and unimportant. Thus, they steer their minds in another direction
even before the source begins.

Give the source at least a few minutes of concentration when com-
munication begins. If you are giving up valuable time to listen, be
selfish enough to collect dividends in the form of new ideas that
the source may have. It has been said that in the entire world there
is no such thing as an uninteresting subject; there are only uninter-
esting communicators.

Barrier 2:
People begin by mentally criticizing the sources delivery. They dont tune in on
the message because they are too busy adding up his/her physical faults and
wondering why he/she rates their attention.
96 Introduction to Development Communication

Remember that brainpower and instantaneous charm are seldom
attributes of the same person. People with profound ideas to share
may not qualify as television performers, but their message usually
outweighs their delivery.

Barrier 3:
People can become over stimulated when they question or oppose an idea and,
consequently, hear only part of it. They are too busy thinking up an argument
or rebuttal to listen with understanding.

For example, when we listen to a message that contradicts our most

deeply-held beliefs, opinions, or convictions, we become stimulated
by many factors other than the speakers words. Suppose we are
arguing with someoneespecially about something that is near
and clear to us. What are we usually doing while the other person
is making his point? In all probability, we do not listen nor under-
stand. We may be planning a rebuttal to what the other person is
saying, or formulating a question.

Next time you get into an argument, stop the discussion and insti-
tute this rule: Each person may speak up with his own thoughts
only after he/she has first stated the ideas and feelings of the previ-
ous speaker. Any distortion may be corrected immediately by the
original speaker.

Barrier 4:
People listen only for factual data and want to be spared of the details.

The so-called details often are composed of principles and the main
idea. The facts make sense only when they support such principles.
To remember dates and statistics is unimportant if the main point
is lost.
Unit II Chapter 7 97

Barrier 5:
People try to outline everything they hear in a conference or at a convention. But
in their busy efforts to outline whats said, they hear only one-third of it.

Be a flexible note-taker or information rememberer. Within a few
minutes, you can tell how well the source has organized his or her
main points and supporting facts.

Barrier 6:
People frequently pretend to give the source their undivided attention. They then
proceed to tune him/her in or out at will while retaining an attentive facial

Good listening is not a relaxed passive activity at all, say the experts.
Good listening is characterized by a quickened heartbeat, faster blood
circulation, and a slight rise in body temperature. It consumes en-
ergy and requires hard work. Mere visual attentiveness isnt listen-

Barrier 7:
People permit others to speak inaudibly or to give fragmentary information
instead of asking for clarification or repetition.

Be an aggressive listener. Pin down your source when he or she is
unclear. Ask for more information when it is necessary. This kind
of eagerness on your part is not rudeness but flatteryyou are
anxious to capture the sources entire thought.

Barrier 8:
People tune out any message that borders on the technical.
98 Introduction to Development Communication

This is a technical world, and weve got to meet it with technical
knowledge acquired through technical listening and study. We all
are associated with products or services that require some explain-

To the person who knows nothing of your commodity, your expla-

nation may sound technical, even if its simple. It is likely that tech-
nical-sounding message contains information, that is new to you.

Barrier 9:
People are allergic to certain words, ideas, or phrases they find distasteful. They
tend to change the topic or avoid discussion.

Dont let them get in your way. Pet peeves against certain hack-
neyed phrases or slang words may cause you to miss important or
useful information. Listen to the source on his or her terms, not

Barrier 10:
Their minds wander.

Capitalize on thought speed. Most persons talk at a speed of about
125 words per minute. Most of us could think easily at four times
that rate.

It is difficult to try to slow down our thinking speed. Thus, we

normally have about 400 words of thinking time to spare during
every minute a person talks to us. Try to anticipate what a person is
going to talk about. On the basis of what he has already said, ask
yourself: Whats he trying to get at? What point is he going to
Unit II Chapter 7 99

Mentally summarize what the person has been saying. What point
has he made already, if any? Weigh the speakers evidence by men-
tally questioning it. As he presents facts, illustrative stories, and sta-
tistics, continually ask yourself: Are they accurate? Do they come
from an unprejudiced source? Am I getting the full picture, or is he
telling me only what will prove his point? Listen between the lines.
The speaker doesnt always put everything thats important into
words. The changing tones and volume of his voice, his facial ex-
pressions, the gestures he makes with his hands, and the movement
of his body all have meaning. Butdont get so absorbed using
your excess thinking time that you end up not listening.


There are many barriers to communication. We must be able to

identify them and deal with them. These barriers are present every-
where. As students of development communication, we must be
conscious of these barriers that come in the form of environmen-
tal factors, semantic noise, channel noise, or socio-psychological
factors. These barriers must not be seen as insurmountable prob-
lems, rather, as challenges that can be overcome.


Anonymous. (1992). Barriers to effective listening. Centro Studi Agricola

Borgo a Mozzano, Lucca, Italy. Handout.
Berlo, D. (1960). The process of communication. New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, Inc.
Chandler, D. The transmission model of communication. Accessed 26 April
2006 from
De Fleur, M.L. and Dennis, E.E. (1981). Understanding mass commu-
nication. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
100 Introduction to Development Communication

Fiske, J. (1982). Introduction to communication studies. Chaucer Press:

Jamias, J.F. (1975). Readings in development communication. Los Baos:
University of the Philippines at Los Baos.
Johns Hopkins University. (1997). Handouts in Communication.
McQuail, D. and Windahl, S. (1981). Models of communication. New
York: Longman, Inc.
Pfeiffer, W.J. (1996). Conditions which hinder effective communi-
cation. The Handbook for Group Facilitators. John E. Jones and
J.W. Pfeiffer, Eds. University Associate Publishers, Inc.
Rothwell, J.D. (1992). In Mixed Company: Small Group Communication.
New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers.
Chapter 8
Related Concepts

M any believe that communication is a pan discipline, an area

of study that encompasses other areas of study. Indeed, as
one goes deeper into it, the boundaries of communication seem to
blur the more. Shannon and Weaver have taught us that there is a
mathematical dimension to communication. Lasswell, on the other
hand, used biological metaphors to analyze it. Norbert Weiner
viewed communication as a branch of systems theory. In Los Baos,
dev com majors are as at home with the concept of bits and bytes
as computer engineering students. Furthermore, who can argue
against the statement that communication is both an art and a sci-

This chapter gives a rundown of concepts belonging to communi-

cation as well as other disciplines, such as systems theory, psycho-
logy, education, engineering, linguistics and physics. Because of the
diversity of the fields represented, these concepts are sequenced
alphabetically, instead of logically.
102 Introduction to Development Communication


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to recall and

discuss the concepts contained herein.

Channel Capacity

Among the first crop of communication scientists were engineers

such as Shannon, Weaver, and Ashley. Some of their studies were
commissioned by the United States military to study codes and chan-
nels, specifically, how much code can a specific channel contain. It
was during these experiments that the term bit was introduced as
the standard unit for measuring information.

Bits and Bytes

Technically defined, a bit is one negative uncertainty. A bit is also

short for binary digit, which makes up the binary numbering sys-
tem. In the binary system you count the numbers 1,2,3,4, and 5
using the symbols 1, 10, 11, 100, and 101 respectively. In other
words, you use only numbers with 1 and/or 0 in them. This system
constitutes the very foundation of computing.

The binary counting system proved to be the ideal way of not only
measuring but also operationalizing information since, indeed, one
binary digit carries the smallest, most basic unit of information.
Eight (8) bits is equivalent to one byte. What is significant about the
number 8? Why 8 instead of 10? Eight was convenient simply be-
cause, in computers, it takes 8 bits of data to generate one alphanu-
meric character (i.e., A, B, C. 1, 2, 3).

The question that confronted communication engineers then was,

how many bits of information can one channel accommodate at
any given time? The channel may be an AM or FM radio frequency
Unit II Chapter 8 103

or a copper telephone cable. Eventually, this concept was extended

to computer memory and storage media such as diskettes, hard
drives, and CD-ROM.

Information Overload

To some extent, channel capacity may also be applied to humans,

not merely machines. Millers Magic Seven theorem submits that
one can only absorb seven chunks of information per sitting. Once
you go beyond this threshold of seven chunks, one can no longer
absorb information. As in copper cables and sound waves, our minds
can also be overloaded.

Notice however that Miller stopped short of using the term bit and
instead used the term chunks, which is rather figurative than con-
crete. How many bits of information constitute one chunk? The
answer to this is relative to the receiver and how the message was

We would do well by structuring our messages in convenient chunks,

taking care that our communication material does not go beyond
seven of these chunks to ensure that our audiences are able to ab-
sorb them efficiently.

Communication Breakdown

Im sure youve heard stories similar to this:

The Captain to the Lieutenant:

As you know, tomorrow at 9 a.m. were expecting a sun

eclipse, that doesnt happen everyday. Take the men dressed
in country clothes to Piazza dArmi at 7 a.m. so that we can
watch this rare phenomenon. I will give the necessary ex-
planations. In case of rain, there will be nothing to be seen,
therefore youll take the men to the gym.
104 Introduction to Development Communication

The Lieutenant to the Marshal:

By orders of the Captain tomorrow at 9 a.m. there will be a

sun eclipse with instructions given by the Captain, that
doesnt happen everyday. If the weather is rainy we wont
have anything to see outside and the eclipse will take place
in the gym.

The Marshal to the Sergeant:

By order of the Captain tomorrow at 9 a.m. there will be

the inauguration of the sun eclipse dressed in country
clothes. The Captain will give the necessary instructions in
the gym in case it rains, that doesnt happen everyday.

The Sergeant to the Corporal:

Tomorrow at 9 a.m., dressed in country clothes, the Cap-

tain will have the sun eclipsing in the gym, with his instruc-
tions if he is on time. If it rains, there wont be any eclipse,
although this doesnt happen everyday.

This is an obvious example of communication breakdown.

However, Ruben (1978) argued that communication does not break

down. Machines break down or quit. However, human beings con-
tinue to communicate even when they dont wish to do so.

Rothwell (1992) says

The view that communication breakdowns occur comes

from a recognition that we do not always achieve our goals
through communication. But failure to achieve our goals
may occur even when communication between the parties
in conflict is exemplary. So, wheres the breakdown?

Rothwell further explains that we sometimes mistakenly conclude

that disagreement constitutes communication breakdown.
Unit II Chapter 8 105

For example, in a meeting, your superior asks you to listen to her

because she wants to convince you to support one of her projects.
Now, you may listen carefully to her very persuasive presentation
but refuse in the end to support it. This is merely a case of dis-
agreementNOT a case of communication breakdown. Her com-
munication was not effective (the effect did not equal her purpose)
but communication continued: you understood perfectly what she
conveyed but decided you did not agree with her proposal.

Convergence of Media

Negroponte (1978, cited by Brand, 1987) made the case for creat-
ing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab by pre-
dicting that the broadcast, film, and print media as well as the broad-
cast, film, and publishing industries will converge by the year 2000.
Indeed, nowadays we edit videos, broadcast programs, design graph-
ics, synthesize sounds, and layout books on one digital platform
the computer.

It was not too long ago when the areas of specialization of dev
com were categorized according to the traditional media-centric
orientation of communication schools: print, audio-visual, and
broadcast. The dev com building, designed in the sixties, was struc-
tured in such a way that the print section was situated in the left
wing of the first floor; the audio-visual section in the right wing of
the second floor; and the broadcast section in the left wing of the
second floor. The practicum courses of these sections were con-
ducted in their respective areas. Their respective production hard-
ware were also thus located.

The situation was drastically affected by the introduction of one

piece of equipment in the market in 1984: Apples Macintosh com-
puter. The Mac was able to do, among other things: desktop pub-
lishing, a skill that was critical for print majors; sound synthesizing
and mixing, a requirement for broadcast majors; and computer
graphics, a necessity for audio-visual majors. Instead of huffing and
106 Introduction to Development Communication

puffing from one part of the building to another to produce spe-

cific communication materials, a student with a Mac, needed only
to stay put in one place.


General systems theory (GST) deals with both living and non-
living systems. Living systems are made up of living things as
elements, thus encompassing organisms, ecosystems, and social sys-
tems. An ecosystem is considered an organism at a higher level of
complexity. A social system is likewise considered as a living sys-
tem because it is made up of human beings.

One of the most basic tenets of GST is that living systems perform
three critical functions with respect to its environment and other
living systems: the exchange of materials; the exchange of energy;
and the exchange of information. Without exception, every organ-
ism, be it a one-celled amoeba or a complex creature such as man,
an organization, or a society, performs all three functions because
these are vital for its survival. If any of these critical functions were
hampered, then it would spell the doom of that organism. The
third and last critical functionthe exchange of informationis
nothing else but communication.

Cybernetics, the science of control, is the branch of General Sys-

tems Theory that deals with communication. The founder of cy-
bernetics was the child prodigy turned MIT professor, scientist and
novelist, Norbert Wiener. The term itself was coined by Wiener
from the Greek word kuber, meaning helmsman or pilot.

The take-off point of cybernetics is the Second Law of Thermo-

dynamics, which as you know, deals with the diffusion of heat in a
closed system. Wiener maintained that the diffusion of heat is a
function of entropy, the tendency of any system towards greater
uniformity and lesser differentiation or organization. We can say
Unit II Chapter 8 107

that if a system is innately made up of hot elements and cold ele-

ments then these differentiations in temperature should be main-
tained for the integrity of the system. When these differentiations
are lost, then the system diesas in the thermal death of the uni-
verse, which the Second Law of Thermodynamics predicts. En-
tropy is a universal tendency for these differentiations to diminish
and ultimately disappear. And it is bad for a living system because it
brings forth disorganization and decay.

Why are we discussing concepts of physics such as the Second Law

of Thermodynamics and entropy in a development communica-
tion textbook? Simple. Wiener maintains that the third critical func-
tion of every living systemthe exchange of informationis the
function that counters entropy. In fact, Wiener believes that infor-
mation negates entropy. He has since termed information as

Based on the above, consider the following propositions.

All living systems are purposive. All living systems have desired
or ideal states. The goal or purpose of a living system is to achieve
this desired or ideal state. Living systems are prone to entropy in
accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

A social system is a living system. Entropy prevents social sys-

tems from achieving its societal goal. Entropy can only be coun-
tered through information. Thus information, or more appropri-
ately, communication, allows a social system to achieve its goal.


The Dependency Model of De Fleur and Rokeach forwards that

nowadays people are very dependent on the media for information
to the extent that audiences and the structural stability of social
systems are affected.
108 Introduction to Development Communication

Media Systems
Societal Systems
Number of Info Functions
Degree of Structural
Centrality of Info

Degree of Dependency
on Media Information


Figure 8-1. Media dependency model

(De Fleur and Rokeach, 1982)

What this model says is that our dependence on radio, TV, and
newspapers is positively correlated to the kind of information that
we get from the media. Our dependence is also positively corre-
lated to the instability of our government and institutions. Our
dependence is likewise correlated to changes in our knowledge, at-
titudes, and actions attributed to media.

During times of crises, wars and calamities have you observed the
changes in our newspaper reading, radio listening or TV viewing
habits? We became more avid readers of the Philippine Daily In-
quirer during the impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada. Our ears
were glued to DZMM during EDSA II. We watched CNN instead
of HBO when the World Trade Center was crash bombed and when
coalition forces invaded Iraq. Indeed, during times of crises, we
become voracious consumers of information, very dependent on
the media.
Unit II Chapter 8 109

Media coverage during times of crises can topple governments,

cause widespread social unrest, and change presidents. This is pri-
marily the reason why radio and TV stations become primary tar-
gets of coup plotters. This is why people began panic buying surgi-
cal masks after viewing the six oclock news during the SARS out-
break in Asia. This is also why the Iraqi Information Minister kept
on giving an optimistic picture of Baghdad during the last days of
Saddam Husseins regime.


Educational technologists and psychologists tell us that through

certain stimuli, we may achieve changes in three domains within
the individual: the cognitive domain, the psychomotor domain, and
the affective domain.


Changes in the cognitive domain mainly refer to knowledge gain.

The delta symbol followed by the letter k (rk) is often used to
signify changes in knowledge measured through oral or written tests.


Changes in the psychomotor domain refer to behavioral change,

the acquisition of skills, or the adoption of certain courses of ac-
tion. These are quite easy to observe.


The affective domain covers attitudes and values. Changes in the

affective domain are more difficult to measure and observe since
these are internal to the person. However, they may be manifested
verbally or behaviorally. Psychologists usually employ measures such
as the Liekert scale or the seven-point semantic differential scale to
determine changes in the affective domain.
110 Introduction to Development Communication


Information and communication technology or ICT is the col-

lective term given to the new (second and third) generation of in-
formation technology spawned by the merger of computers and
telecommunications. There are social trends associated with ICT.
These include: informatization, the shift in the workforce and com-
modity base of national economies, wherein information labor be-
comes the dominant workforce and information becomes the pri-
mary commodity; digitization, the use of digital technology as the
operational standard for all information-based systems; and global-
ization, the blurring of national and regional boundaries among
information-related sectors, i.e., business and finance, governance,
education, entertainment, and communication.

Another feature of ICT is the convergence of media (print, audio

and videohence, multimedia) made possible by a common digi-
tal platform, which was earlier discussed.

ICT encompasses computer systems and networks, cellular tele-

phony, desktop publishing, multimedia production, the Internet,
cable television, and others. ICT applications may be Web-enabled,
networked, or stand-alone; it may make available an information or
knowledge system; or it may generate an information or knowl-
edge product or service. Its uses are diverse and varied. The appli-
cations of one form of ICT alone, the Internet, include on-line
exchanges of personal messages and files (e-mail), on-line economic
transactions (e-Commerce or eBusiness), and network assistance to
local and national governance (e-Government).

Information Society

Social observers from Toffler to Naisbitt and academics from

Machlup to Drucker agree that humanity has gone through two
major eras, the Agricultural Age and the Industrial Age. The
Unit II Chapter 8 111

former began with the invention of the plough, the latter with the
introduction of the steam engine. Today, human civilization is in
the Information Age. This period commenced with the launching
of the Sputnik satellite and the development of the computer.

The Information Age is characterized by rapid informatization (in

contrast to industrialization), widespread recognition of the pri-
macy of information as a resource, and the dominance of informa-
tion-based economies.

As differentiated from agriculture-based and industrial-based econo-

mies, information-based economies have a labor force made up
mostly of information or knowledge workers. Economist Marc Porat
maintains that an information society exists in countries with infor-
mation-based economies, as in the case of Singapore. In the same
manner, agricultural and industrial societies exist in countries with
agriculture-based and industrial-based economies, respectively.

Indeed, the world is in the Information Age. Yet, most developing

countries remain agricultural societies. The Philippines is an agri-
cultural society. And it is tough for an agricultural society to be in
the Information Age.

Invasion of Privacy

Everyone was shocked when Princess Diana died in a car crash

with her boyfriend Dodi Alfayyed. Their deaths (and the circum-
stances that led to it) turned the worlds attention to camera-totting
paparazzi and sensationalist tabloids, in particular, and the mass
media, in general.

The families of Princess Di and Dodie were very vocal in their

views that the mass mediaspecifically the paparazziwere re-
sponsible for their deaths. They accused the paparazzi of invading
the couples privacy to such an extent that the two were forced to
escape the flashing cameras that dogged their every step.
112 Introduction to Development Communication

When do celebrities stop being public figures?

Legally, all citizens have a right to privacy. However, legal experts

maintain that public figures whose private lives have a bearing on
jobs that put them in the public eye, give up their right to privacy.
Thus, politicians, actors, and actresses, and other famous (or infa-
mous!) people should expect to find themselves in the publics eye.
People are naturally curious about how their leaders and entertain-
ers live their lives. And, the public is entitled to know how the pri-
vate lives of their leaders and role models could affect how they
perform their jobs.

Knowledge Management

Paraphrasing Microsoft, knowledge management or KM is an

evolving discipline that considers an organizations intellectual capital
as a manageable and potentially profitable asset. Each and every
organization possesses some form of human capital, which is made
up of individual talents and tacit knowledge. The latter is some-
times referred to as intellectual capital and is considered as a funda-
mental input to all wealth generating processes.

Undocumented or Documented or
Tacit Knowledge Knowledge Explicit Knowledge
Ideas, Experiences, ... Management captured
Information Base in Documents

Sharing & Reuse

Figure 8-2. Goal of knowledge management

Unit II Chapter 8 113

The goal of KM is the sharing and reuse of intellectual capital

(Liebmann, 1998). Prior to the development of ICT, intellectual
capital was considered difficult to manage because it primarily re-
sides in the individual. With ICT, such knowledge can be captured,
stored, and shared electronicallyin short, managed.

Bill Gates uses the digital nervous system metaphor, comparing an

organization to an organism with a nervous system technologically
enabled by computer hardware, software, and networking. This
network of workstations and servers (or KM system) programmed
to facilitate knowledge sharing and reuse is, to an organization, like
a nervous system to an organism.

Language and Meaning

Perhaps you are wondering: What about language? Doesnt it play

an important role in communication?

Berlo (1960) explained that language is used to express and elicit

meanings. Language is made up of a set of significant symbols,
which people sequence and impose a structure. Thus, a specific
language like Filipino includes a set of symbols (vocabulary) and
meaningful ways of combining the symbols (syntax). We know that
people share a language if they encode and decode symbols that
are significant to all of them.

In a way, people created language to express meanings to others

and to ensure that others receive the same meanings. Language is
also used for people to make responses that increase their ability to
affect changes (Berlo, 1960).

We can see that meanings and language are intrinsically joined to-
gether. Because the main function of language is to express and
elicit meanings (Berlo, 1960), then meaning is part of the definition
of language. As communicators, we are concerned with the mean-
ings that we communicate.
114 Introduction to Development Communication

Our freshman English course tells us that there are two types of
meaning: denotative or the dictionary meaning; and connotative
or the implied meaning. However, there is more to meaning than
this distinction.

Berlo explains that communication does not consist of the trans-

mission of meanings. Meanings are in the message-user and in the
message-sender, not in the message itself. Thus, meanings cannot
be transmitted or transferred. Only messages can be transmitted.
This is why we say that meanings are in people, not in words.

Nowhere is this most apparent than in inter-cultural situations. At a

national camp, a Cebuana friend who was cooking rice cried, Ay,
napagod ang kanin! (The rice burned!). A Tagalog friend turned to
me and asked, Paano napapagod ang kanin? (How did the rice get
tired?). You see, both used the same word napagod but they did
not understand each other. They each had a different meaning for
the word and these meanings were offshoots of their cultural back-
grounds and experiences.

As development communicators, we must be careful to ensure that

we communicate meanings, not just words. An effective communi-
cator is able to choose words and symbols for which he/she shares
meanings with his/her receiver.

Yes, people have different meanings for different things and ideas
because we interpret what we know from the perspective of our
culture, education background, and field of experience. This is why
we even have different meanings for colors. Black for a long time
was the color of mourning in the Philippines. But for the Chinese,
white is used at funerals. Truly, meanings are in people.
Unit II Chapter 8 115

Mass vs. Interpersonal

Interpersonal Communication

Words have great potential for both good and evil. Interpersonal
communication can bring about changes in what people know, what
people think, and what people do.

Interpersonal communication plays a very active, integral part in all

persuasive communication. In dev com, there is a long list of case
studies about important changes introduced through interpersonal
communication. From new varieties of rice to new breeds of farm
animals, development efforts often depend on change agentsex-
tension agent and development communicatorsout in the field.
They work directly with communities, convincing, persuading,
motivating, encouraging. They do the job better than a hundred
billboards, leaflets, or videotapes could ever do. However, this does
not mean that there is no room for other means of communica-

Mass Communication

For so long, we have been taught that generally, mass media do not
bring about change in peoples behavior. However, the Johns
Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs explained
that some communication scientists are actually revising their stand
on this. They believe that the mass media today can bring about
radical changes in behaviorpositive or otherwise. We should work
on understanding these influences and harnessing them to bring
about positive changes in the lives of people and in society.
116 Introduction to Development Communication


If a gene is the basic unit of heredity;

a phoneme is the basic unit of language;
a kine is the basic unit of body language;
and a bit is the basic unit of information

What is the basic unit of culture?

In 1976, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins wrote a book titled,

The Selfish Gene. In this book, Dawkins introduced the word meme
as a purposeful analogy to gene, the former being cultural while
the latter, biological. Dawkins defines meme as replicating infor-
mation patterns that use minds to get themselves copied much as a
virus uses cells to get themselves copied. A meme could be an
idea (environmentalism), a song (Tom Greenes Bum-Bum Song), a
fashion trend (bare midriffs), or an expression (Lets Get It On!)
that lodges in our minds and changes us. What is intriguing about it
is the thought that it could spread much like the SARS virus, thereby
influencing entire cultures.

I have always been fascinated by memetics. Determining the be-

havior of memes and the principles that govern them is the key to
discovering or more appropriately uncovering the dynamics of so-
cial movements, so critical to the study of development communi-

How does one spread a socially beneficial idea, a meme, such as

world peace with such impact and scale that it becomes ingrained
in our culture? To my mind this is the biggest question confronting


A network is a collection of people or objects connected to each

other in some way. Networks are made up of nodes and links.
Unit II Chapter 8 117

A node is an element or unit in a network. Others define it as a type

of junction for links. Links connect nodes. They may be physical
in nature (such as computer cables) or symbolic, signifying associa-
tions or relationships. Two nodes linked together by a reciprocal
relationship are called diads. Nodes with many reciprocal links rela-
tive to other nodes are called hubs.

As defined, networks may be made up of objects (such as com-

puter terminals in a LAN) or people (such as a group of friends).
Below is an example of a visual representation (or sociogram) of
the latter.



Kathy Charles

Tanya Stuart
Wynn Carol Harold
Sharon Fred


Figure 8-4. Sociogram

Sociograms are drawn to illustrate unique relationships among the

nodes. In a network of people, one generally finds cliques or closely
knit networks within networks. In the example given above Charles,
Wynn, Harold, and Carol form one such clique. So do Bob, Fred,
Sharon, and Stuart. Charles and Stuart form the bridge between
these two cliques. Nancy is a cosmopolite, a person who does not
belong to any clique but is linked to all of them. If in a network we
find a node that is not linked to other nodes, then we have an iso-
118 Introduction to Development Communication

There is a growing field called network science, which is very much

related to communication. Many network scientists believe that
networks make up the fundamental organizational structure of liv-
ing systems. The World Wide Web is a network. So are the UPLB
Alumni Association and the Amway sales force. Our body is made
up of a network of organs, our organs are made up of networks of
tissues, and our tissues are made up of networks of cells. We see
networks in spider webs, rivers, countries, and societies.

What is fascinating is thatwhether they are organic or inorganic,

living or nonliving, physical or biological, political or socialall
these networks are subject to the same laws of network behavior,
such as:

1. Each node in a network, no matter how large, should be con-

nected within six degrees of separation.
2. Decentralized networks have higher fitness levels than central-
ized networks
3. Interconnectivity, reciprocity, and network activity are corre-
lated to a networks survival.
4. Networks without content die.

Non-Verbal Communication

Randall Harrison (1970) estimates that during face-to-face com-

munication, no more than 35 percent of the social meaning is
carried in verbal messages. The rest (64 percent) is carried by non-
verbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, distance between
the participants, and timing. In other words, we communicate more
non-verbally than verbally, everyday.

We communicate through body language. Founded by Ray

Birdwhistle, kinesics is the science of communicating through
bodily gestures and facial expressions. The basic unit of bodily move-
ment, which carries a meaning, is called a kine, the counterpart of
the phoneme in verbal communication. When we raise our eye-
brows, shrug our shoulders, or raise our hands, we execute a kine.
Unit II Chapter 8 119

Body language is culture bound for the most part. Witness South
Asians turn their heads from side to side as a sign of agreement. In
our cultural context, this would mean disagreement. Observe how
a Javanese would be offended if you hand over something to him
with the left hand.

Proxemics, on the other hand, is communicating through space.

Founded by Edward Hall, this science distinguishes between inti-
mate space, personal space, social space, and public space. Although
these vary across cultures, generally, only your closest friends and
family can violate your intimate space, the area within six inches
from your body. Your personal space is the area within a foot and a
half from your body. Social space is the area beyond a foot and a
half but within three feet. Public space is the area beyond six feet
from your body.


Psychologically, we unconsciously go through selective processes

that have a bearing on the effectiveness of communication. There
are three selective processes that concern us most:

1. Selective exposure
2. Selective perception
3. Selective retention

Lets look at each one briefly.

What do you usually do when you get home from school in the
evenings? Many of my friends flop down in front of the television,
pick up the remote control, and spend a few hours glued to the set.
How do they decide on what to watch? The decision isnt too diffi-
cult to make when you have few choices but once you subscribe to
cable, then the choices are legion!
120 Introduction to Development Communication

Which of the following would you rather watch on TV:

1. Basketball OR the news
2. Movie OR a talk show
3. Filipino soap opera OR a canned series

The choices you checked indicate which shows you would prefer to
watch. This is selective exposure, the process of selecting what
messages you would like to listen to or watch or read. As communi-
cators, we need to design messages that our audiences will choose
to listen to, watch, or read.

As for selective perceptionwell, we perceive some things and

do not perceive others. Why? Berlo (1960) explains that we make
judgments about the things we perceive and then structure our per-
ceptions to fit those judgments. Experiences and values affect our
judgmentsand our perceptions.

As communicators, we should understand how our receivers per-

ception of who we are and what our message is can affect his/her
perception of our message. This is where credibility comes in. A
message is more likely to be understood and accepted if the re-
ceiver perceives the source as credible. Who do we perceive as cred-

We perceive as credible those with experience or expertise in the

topic he or she is discussing. We perceive as credible those who are
literally dressed for the part. We perceive as credible those whose
opinions and attitudes are similar to ours. Effective communicators
are those perceived by their audiences to be credible sources of

What do we remember about people or events? And why? Selec-

tive retention means that there are things we remember and things
we dont. Thus, as communicators, we must design messages in
such a way that our audience remembers them.

In a lifetime, we hear thousands of words of wisdom but we select

only a few by which to live our lives.
Unit II Chapter 8 121

Social Mobilization

Social mobilization or socmob is the process of bringing together

all feasible and practical inter-sectoral social allies to raise peoples
demand for a particular development program, to assist in the de-
livery of resources and services and to strengthen community par-
ticipation for sustainability and self-reliance (McKee, 1992). In other
words, it is the act of rallying together as many social sectors
government leaders, civil society, and business sector to own and
support a certain development program.

Social mobilization has six elements: advocacy; information, edu-

cation, and communication or IEC; community organizing; capac-
ity development; networking and alliance building; and monitoring
and evaluation.

Advocacy is the organization of information into arguments used

to persuade or convince a specific group of people to take neces-
sary action on a specific goal. It involves pleading, defending, rec-
ommending, and supporting a policy. Advocacy targets include na-
tional and local leaders, policy- makers, and decision-makers

Information, education, and communication strategies and tac-

tics are employed in social mobilization to generate a knowledge-
able and supportive environment for decision-making. This includes
the allocation of adequate resources to inform and engage various
stakeholders through multiple communication channels. The aim
of IEC is to change knowledge, attitudes, opinions, and values.

Community organizing involves building the communitys capa-

bility for problem solving, decision-making and collective action.
Community organizing serves as catalyst for the neighborhood to
initiate action. This approach believes that improvements in ser-
vices can be achieved if people participate in their delivery.

Harnessing the communitys potential, particularly in sustaining it-

self is capacity development. This includes training to improve
122 Introduction to Development Communication

peoples knowledge, attitudes, values, and skills. This element in the

social mobilization process develops competencies in dealing with
their networks, resource sharing, problem solving, and collective

Through networking and alliance building, we bring together those

who have similar interests and programs. These include what the
Asian Institute of Management refers to as the four pillars of gov-
ernance: local government units (LGUs); nongovernment organi-
zations (NGOs); business sector; and civil society (schools, media,
religious, and socio-civic organizations).

Monitoring and evaluation seeks to determine the effectiveness

of the program as well as to improve its efficiency. It identifies
weak spots of the program, thereby enables making necessary ad-
justments. M&E determines the impact and allows assessment of
how much of the defined goals have been met.

The Net

The Internet is the sum total of all connected computers around

the world. Some describe it as a community of cooperation that
circles the globe, spanning political spectrum, and goes up and down
the economic ladder. Others choose to define it as a set of agree-
ments between administrators and users of a bunch of indepen-
dent computers hooked up to shared or linked computer resources.

Several metaphors have been used to describe the Net. It has been
called: a living network; an ecosystem of computers; and a world
brain of Pentium-powered neurons.

We should distinguish between the Internet and the World Wide

Web. The latter is the collective name for all computer files: acces-
sible on the Internet; electronically linked together (expressed
through HTML or Hypertext Markup Language); viewed, experi-
enced or retrieved with the use of a browser.
Unit II Chapter 8 123

Every three seconds, 15 Webpages are uploaded. In 2003, an esti-

mated 50 million Web sites can be accessed in the World Wide

The Nets Downside

In todays world dominated by computers and information tech-

nology, access to information seems a moot point to discuss. And
yet, precisely because access to information is so easy, it becomes
an issue that should concern us all.

All of us are online. Our big tri-media outfits are online. We have
access to the World Wide Web at the touch of a finger and the
world has access to us.

Yet, uncontrolled access raises issues such as: control over Internet
content and the digital divide.

Control over Internet Content

The Internet has been around since the 1950s but it only went pub-
lic in the 1980s. Since then, the number of users has grown to en-
compass billions all over the world.

The information one gets over the Net can be very helpful and
entertaining. For example, I subscribe to several services that send
me news articles on topics of my choice. I also subscribe to ser-
vices that inform me when something I am interested in is pub-
lished the Net. All one has to do then is access the websiteand
the material can be downloaded and linked to other related materi-

However, as a user, I am aware that the Net also contains some

very disturbing elements. Sites catering to pornography and terror-
ism are just a mouse click away. The majority of Net surfers are
teenagers who can be easily corrupted. Should the Net be censored?
How can this be possible?
124 Introduction to Development Communication

The Digital Divide

I stand corrected. Not everyone is online. In fact, the poor, who

make up the majority of the population, have little or no access to
the World Wide Web. Hence, they are deprived of opportunities to
improve their lives.

The so-called Digital Divide is the gap between the information

rich and the information poor. From 1983 to 86, I conducted a
study on this widening gap and analyzed its implications on the
agricultural sector. One significant finding of that study is that the
information rich gets richer while the information poor gets poorer.

The world has been made conscious of the Digital Divide when
this formed part of the agenda of the July 2000 G10 Summit in
Okinawa. During this summit, the 10 richest nations in the world
resolved to bridge the ever-widening digital divide.


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Viking Press.
De Fleur, M.L. and Ball-Rokeach, S. (1982). Theories of mass commu-
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Flor, A.G. (1998). The Philippine Communication Scene. The Asian
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Flor, A.G. and Matulac, L.A. (1994). Cultural dimensions of environ-
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Flor, B.G. (1989). Media dependency during crises situations. Unpublished
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ate School.
Index on Censorship, 1997-99. All Issues, Volumes 32 to 28. London:
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Unit II Chapter 8 125

Ito, Y. and Kochevar, J.J. (1983). Factors accounting for the flow of
international communication. KEIO Communication Review No. 4.
Jones, L.Y. (1980). Great expectations. New York: Ballantine Books.
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Millennium Whole Earth Catalogue, 1995. New York: The Point Foun-
Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital, New York: Alfred P. Knofp.
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in mass communication. New York: Harper and Row.
Yoshizoe, Y. (1988). An economic interpretation of Information
flow census data. KEIO Communication Review No. 9.
Unit III
Chapter 9

U nit III will acquaint you with the concept and practice of deve-
lopment communication. Some of us in the academe have
spent the best years of our lives growing with the discipline. We
hope that Unit III is where your love story with dev com begins.
We expect every love story to have a happy ending, so let this chap-
ter be your guide in seeing to it that your relationship with this
discipline will proceed meaningfully, if not blissfully.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Explain the concept of development communication
in your own words;
2. Discuss the uniqueness and similarity of dev com with
other allied fields; and
3. Relate how development communication started as a
field of study.
130 Introduction to Development Communication

Quebral Definition

What is development communication?

Quebral (1971) defines development communication as the art

and science of human communication applied to the speedy transforma-
tion of a country and the mass of its people from poverty to a dynamic
state of economic growth that makes possible greater social equality and
the larger fulfillment of the human potential.

Let me explain each italicized word/phrase to better understand

how Quebral defines dev com.


Dev com requires creativity in communicating messages through

the use of various communication media and materials; the aes-
thetic aspect is an important consideration in communication be-
cause first you have to gain the attraction and attention of your
learner or your audience before he or she decides to read or listen
to your message.

Practicing the art of human communication not only entails the

aesthetic designing and presentation of messages or what we call
the hard or concrete art. It is also being creative in the practice
of the field such as in conducting interviews (you phrase questions
in a manner by which you can get the information you want form
your source) or in doing other challenging tasks in development
which require a lot of creativity in human communication (such as
causing behavioral change among groups who are slow to accept-
ing or adopting change in their lives.)


Development communication is a social science. Like other social

science fields, it uses the scientific method to enrich its own field
through research where theories and principles can be derived and
Unit III Chapter 9 131

applied to development problems. Furthermore, it applies system-

atic methods in making decisions and planning how to effectively
carry out communication interventions.

When using communication as an intervention in waste manage-

ment in a community, the scientific method is observed.

Identify the basic problem Is it a matter of educating the

(problem identification) households or the garbage

Gather data about the What is the knowledge level

problem (data gathering) of the community or of the
garbage collectors in waste
management? Do they know
and practice waste segregation?

Develop and test materials, Will people be more conscious

methods or new communica- of waste management or do I
tion processes (hypothesis need to try another approach?

Human Communication

Development communication is human communication whether it

utilizes interpersonal channels or mass media or whether it is prac-
ticed at various levels: individual, group, organizational, international,
national, provincial, sectoral, program, or at the grassroots. The
key players in dev com are people. The field itself is more about
people than technology. Perhaps this is one very distinct feature of
dev com when compared with other communication sciences. It is

Speedy Transformation

Dev com acts as a catalyst for social change. The word catalyst is
a borrowed term from chemistry, which refers to a substance that
132 Introduction to Development Communication

increases the rate of a chemical reaction. Development communi-

cation will accomplish in a shorter time what normally will take
years to accomplish.

Take the case of locust infestation in Northern Luzon. If the dev

com practitioner does not enter into the picture and research on
locust remains inside the laboratories or libraries, then the problem
will remain unsolved for years. But, with the dev com person who
thinks of effective ways of disseminating information on locust
control and mobilizes the community in combating the pest, then
the problem will most likely be solved.

As a student of development communication, prepare to become a

catalyst for change.


Development communication entails motivating individuals and

groups of people such as farmers, fisherfolk, workers, housewives,
and the youth to change their habits, their lifestyles, their way of
thinking, their way of doing things. When we target changing people,
we intend to change them in the three domains discussed in Chap-
ter 6: cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitude), and psychomotor

For instance, if we want people to stop throwing solid waste into

Laguna de Bay, we should also aim to change their attitudes, we aim
to instill in them values that have a positive regard for the environ-
ment. Likewise, we should also educate them why it is not good to
throw garbage in bodies of water. All these three learning domains
must be considered if we are to design a communication program
or an information campaign targeting the lake community.

Likewise, we do not only target the beneficiaries or end users of

development programs. We likewise interact and coordinate with
people from the higher echelons of government and the private
Unit III Chapter 9 133

sector. Why do we need to? Because they make the decisions for
the people and they fund the development projects. As Quebral
(1975) puts it, We need to influence their ideas and thoughts. They
can, like the end users of development projects, be as resistant to
change and as traditional in their ways of thinking. The dev com
practitioner must also win over this group of people.


This is the greatest challenge facing development communication


You learned in the beginning chapters that poverty is related to

malnutrition, unemployment, illiteracy, overpopulation. Landless
farmers, uninformed mothers, or uneducated laborers manifest
poverty. By virtue of their need and number, they and their families
are the targets of development communication.

As development communication practitioners, it is not enough that

we know how the poor are or who our targets should be. We should
also know where they are and what are their characteristics. Michael
Todaro (1977) in his book Economic Development in the Third World
said that the poor are disproportionately located in the rural areas
and they are primarily engaged in agricultural and associated activi-
ties. About two-thirds of the very poor scratch out their livelihood
from subsistence agriculture either as small farmers or low-paid
farm workers. The remaining one-third is located partly in the rural
areas and in the marginal areas of urban centers. These urban poor
engage in various forms of self-employment such as street-hawk-
ing, trading, etc.

Todaro concludes his discussion on poverty by stating that if in-

deed the poorest can be found in the rural areas, policies designed
to alleviate poverty must be directed to rural development in gen-
eral and to agricultural developments in particular.
134 Introduction to Development Communication

Dynamic State of Economic Growth, Greater Social Equality,

and the Larger Fulfillment of the Human Potential

The goals that dev com endeavors to fulfill for the nation, any na-
tion, are three: a dynamic state of economic growth, greater social
equality, and the larger fulfillment of the human potential. Con-
sider that Quebral set these goals more than 30 years ago. These are
pretty much related to what development planners now refer to as
the triple bottom line: economic goals, social goals, and environ-
mental goals.

These are the three goals of sustainable development.

Why do we describe development as dynamic? It is because deve-

lopment is a continuous process.

Why do we aim for greater social development? It is because the

gap between the rich and the poor is becoming wider and wider.
We need to narrow this widening gap.

As to the fulfillment of the human potential, remember our dis-

cussion on the Second Development Decade in Chapter 3, where
we quoted Dudley Seers who credited Mahatma Gandhi for this
phrase? We agree with Gandhi that human societies, like human
beings, are constantly evolving towards perfection. Achieving this
desired state should never be hampered by man himself. At the
individual level, we should make people realize and be conscious
of their potentials and capabilities. At the societal level, we should
contribute to the achievement of that desired state.

What Dev Com is Not

Quebral (1988) further elucidates that development communica-

tion is:

1. not publicity per se, or getting the maximum media expo-

sure for someone or something for image-building. The
Unit III Chapter 9 135

dev com practitioner uses the same media that a publicist does
but the difference lies in the purpose why the dev com uses
these media. The dev com practitioner uses these media to stimu-
late public awareness and understanding of planned change.

2. not mass communication alone. Dev com uses any available

channel that will achieve its goals. These channels could be
meetings with barangay constituents, a demonstration plot, a
course curriculum, a song or stage play.

3. more than a slideset, a leaflet, or a seminar. Dev com is an

approach or a point of view that sizes up a problem of the
people and of overcoming barriers in reaching them.

4. not source-oriented but is audience-oriented. The end-use

of the information we communicate is the top priority and
guides us in making decisions on how best to communicate. It
is not the boss that matters but the receivers of the informa-
tion. Dev com is thinking of ways of how to make people un-
derstand and use information to improve their lives.

5. not only an exercise of profession but is a commitment to

social goals. The dev com practitioner is more than a worker.
He is a social worker with a sense of mission to mankind, his
country, and the ideals of development.

Lents Perspective

The preceding discussion was based on Quebrals view, that of an

insider. In the following paragraphs, we will see how an external
observer, John Lent (1977), a Western media observer and journal-
ism professor, talks about development communication and how it
can impinge on press freedom and be synonymous with govern-
ment control of media in the Third World.

Lent observes that development communication has been used as

a major government tool in numerous developing countries. Third
136 Introduction to Development Communication

world governments realized that if media should be used in plan-

ning and implementing national development strategies then they
had to control media. This realization causes two value systems to
clash head on: one, should dev com be used as watchdog of gov-
ernment, meaning the press hounding government and supervising
the public good or should dev com be used as a lapdog by govern-
ment, meaning the press defers to authority and becomes a na-
tional development tool. He cites Asian and African nations where
government takes newspapers and other media as government prop-
erties and scrutinizes and screens all foreign and domestic news. In
China, the media were used to promote national ideological cam-

At the global level, Lent observed that development communica-

tion is indeed at work, although in a different way. At a 1971
UNESCO meeting in Paris, there was a proposal to organize a na-
tional communication policy council made of opinion leaders in
each country unit. UNESCO envisioned these units to systematize
national communication planning that will eventually promote
planned education and social change. UNESCO will serve as a co-
ordinating neutral agent at the planning and research levels. The
proposal was severely criticized by international advocates of press
freedom. These advocates were one in saying that UNESCO in-
duced governments to tighten media control. The formation of
these communication-planning units were tested in Latin America.
Yet, still the new system was hit left and right after findings of the
tests were disclosed. It remains unresolved up to now.

Cybernatic Definition

A more recent definition of dev com (Flor 1992), somewhat devi-

ates from that of Quebral conceptually. This definition borrows
extensively from systems thinking and may be referred to as the
social cybernetics definition of development communication.

In Chapter 8, we discussed the branch of systems theory that re-

lated directly to communication, cybernetics. We also said that its
Unit III Chapter 9 137

founder, Norbert Weiner, primarily considered cybernetics to be a

human science rather than a technical field. However, with the pro-
liferation of cybernetic inventions such as the smart bomb and the
cruise missiles, scientists find it convenient to differentiate cyber-
netic engineering and social cybernetics, the latter referring to the
study of directional behavior of social systems.

Personally, I submit that as a grand theory, development communi-

cation finds its best rationale in social cybernetics. Essentially, dev
com may be described as communication that prevents or corrects
deviation from the prescribed social path. Ordinarily, as in the case
of development support communication, communication is rel-
egated a supportive role in the development process. In dev com,
communication takes a central role in development.

Ideal or End States

A society is the most complicated social system. As a system made

up of living beings, it is considered a living system. And like all
living systems it should have a desired goal or state, a purpose that
determines its reason for being. This end state may be described as
total development, or one that allows the larger fulfillment of the
human potential or the full achievement of the triple bottom line.
It may also be a running target that leads a social system to higher
and higher evolutional states, a constant movement towards per-
fection. Arriving at this desired state (or moving towards it) at the
earliest or fastest possible time necessitates movement along a pre-
scribed path, the shortest one available towards the goal.

Dev Com as Negentropic

As the second law of thermodynamics dictates, all systems, includ-

ing societies, are susceptible to entropythe tendency to go into a
state of lesser organization. Hence the social system deviates from
the desired path because of entropy. As in all systems, entropy can
only be countered with information. As mentioned earlier, the sci-
138 Introduction to Development Communication

ence of cybernetics is all about the application of information to

negate entropy. The process of obtaining, delivering, or exchang-
ing this information - the movement of this informationis deve-
lopment communication at the societal level.

In systems jargon, social cybernetics assumes that social systems

are organisms. Organisms by nature are purposive or goal-oriented
systems. Entropy is a tendency in all systems. Information is
negentropy. Negentropic initiatives within social systems may be
referred to as development communication.

Ideal state or
End state

deviation caused
by entropy
desired path

System X
actual path

Figure 9-1. Societal movement towards ideal state

It is quite appropriate that the word development originated from

biology as applied to organisms, since cybernetics and systems theory
are more appropriately applied to living systems.

One dimension that has been neglected thus far is the fact that a
desired goal changes in space and time. Negentropic initiatives
should always be considerate of these changes. It is like playing
Chinese baseball where the bases change locations every time the
ball is in flight.
Unit III Chapter 9 139

Convergence and Cybernetics

One could take this argument further by superimposing Kincaids

Convergence Theory. Personally, I tend to adhere to Kincaids view
that the purpose of the communication process is mutual under-
standing, where the two midpoints converge. Communication per
se would have this phenomenon anywhere in an x-y plane. How-
ever, in the case of development communication, there is a point
of reference and that is the nearest point within the prescribed path,
taking well into consideration the velocity and the direction of

For instance, point D is within the desired path. Point A represents

Individual As understanding midpoint of appropriate action. Point
B represents Individual Bs understanding midpoint of appropriate
action. A communication situation between Individuals A and B
that lead to converging midpoints A and B and decreases their re-
spective distances between D may be regarded as development com-

l stat

desired path


Figure 9-2. Convergence superimposed

140 Introduction to Development Communication

The Values of Development Communication

There are three major values that guide the practice of develop-
ment communication:

One, it is purposive.
Two, it is pragmatic.
Three, it is value-laden.

Dev com is purposive communication. We communicate not only

to inform but also to influence the behavior of the receiver of
information. We have a desired outcome in mind, targets, specific
goals, and objectivesto decrease use of pesticides in growing rice
and vegetables, to stop smoking in public areas, to improve the
teaching skills of elementary science teachers.

Dev com is pragmatic. To be pragmatic means being results-ori-

ented. We evaluate if we indeed made an impact, if we accom-
plished our purpose. Being pragmatic also means we check out the
factors that contributed to the success or failure of a communica-
tion program. It is asking yourself, Did I achieve my objectives?
What factors led to the attainment of my objectives?

Dev com is value-laden. Information sources, consciously or un-

consciously, assign values to every message they communicate. Back
in the 1970s, the government promoted the use of pesticides as
part of the green revolution program. When this message was com-
municated to farmers, unconsciously government also communi-
cated the high positive value it attached to pesticide use and other
agricultural inputs. However, values attached to messages change
over time. Now, it is the Integrated Pest Management program that
the government is promoting. Although the program does not dis-
regard chemical control methods, the government as an informa-
tion source also communicates that it is assigning a negative value
to unsafe pesticide use.

Basically, in development communication, we assume that there is

an attached value in every message that one communicates (Jamias,
Unit III Chapter 9 141

1975). Development is in itself a value-laden word. It is not a neu-

tral word (Quebral, 1988). People assume certain biases on how
development can be achieved.

At the present time, dev com is promoting four requisite values to

make Philippine development a reality. These values are termed as
the four Es of dev com. These are: empowerment, environmental-
ism, entrepreneurship, and equity.

These values will be elaborated on further in Chapter 11.

Dev Com and other Allied Fields

As you may have gleaned by now, dev com is different from other
communication fields although it draws strength from the principles
of these older disciplines. We may call mass communication or com-
munication arts as cousins of development communication in
the communication family tree.

Aside from these communication fields, dev com is also a close

relative of agricultural journalism, agricultural extension, education,
and basic social sciences like sociology, psychology and economics.

Mass Communication

Mass communication and development communication are branches

of communication science yet their basic difference lies with their
orientations. Mass com is media-centric and source-oriented while
dev com is message-centric and receiver-oriented. The latter orien-
tation best serves the so-called triple bottom line. Needless to say,
development communication does not limit itself to the use of
mass media.

The media-centric orientation of mass com is evident in mass com-

munication education. A.B. Mass Communication majors are gene-
142 Introduction to Development Communication

rally categorized under the print, broadcast, and audio-visual

trichotomy. Not so in dev com programs. This will be further dis-
cussed in the following chapter.

In contrast to mass com which has for its audience large groups of
people or the general public, dev com audiences are commonly
groups, communities or sectors, although they vary from the lowly
fisherman to the highest policymaking body of the land. We can
say that dev com audiences are more specific, mass com audiences
are broader.

Communication Arts

The similarity of communication arts and development communi-

cation could be found in the means by which each communication
field uses art forms such as puppetry or theater. However, the aim
and the focus of each of these communication fields set them apart.

Communication arts aim to acculturate man. On the other hand,

dev com educates man. Dev com aims to teach the poor to im-
prove his life by, first and foremost, knowing how to provide for
himself and his family the basic needs. If you are familiar with
Maslows Hierarchy of Needs, dev com aims to help man fulfill the
very base of the hierarchy whereas com arts aims for the higher
needs of man in the hierarchy.

Maslows hierarchy of needs

5th: Self-actualization and fulfillment

4th: Esteem and status Higher order
3rd: Belonging and social needs
2nd: Safety and security
Lower order
1st: Basic physical needs
Unit III Chapter 9 143


The similarity of advertising and dev com is their purposeto in-

form and persuade. Advertising techniques such as audience analy-
sis, audience segmentation, and budgeting are widely adopted and
used by dev com practitioners in communication program plan-
ning. However, instead of advertising, we call it social marketing.

Their difference: in advertising, a one-way goal is evidentto per-

suade the consumer to buy a product or adopt an idea. Dev com
presents several alternatives and tries to point the way for the re-
ceiver of the information to make a decision, many waysone
goal. For instance, in family planning, the approach of advertising
is to promote the use of a certain brand of condom. The approach
of dev com will be to present the pros and cons of family planning
and the methods couples can use to control the number of chil-
dren they may have. Through the various information presented,
the individual is encouraged to make a decision.

Agricultural Extension

The shared goal of agricultural extension and development com-

munication is economic development. The uniqueness of each field
lies in the following:

1. Agricultural extension was initiated and practiced in the West

while development communication grew in the Third World
setting. In other words, dev com is home grown.

2. Agricultural extension limits itself to the delivery of agricul-

tural information whereas in dev com, agriculture is only one
of its several concerns. Other concerns are health, population,
economy, nutrition, forestry, and even the environment.
144 Introduction to Development Communication

Table 9.1. Development communication

Similarities Differences

Mass Branches of commu- Mass com is media-centric,

communication nication science source-oriented and has a
broader audience.
Dev com can use any avail-
able media so long as the
development purpose is
served and it has a more
specific audience

Communication Communication Com arts acculturates man,

arts media used fulfills higher order needs.
Dev com teaches man how to
fulfill his basic needs

Advertising Purpose is to inform Advertising has a one-way

and to persuade goal: to persuade the
customer to buy a product.
Dev com offers several op-
tions to encourage the indi-
vidual to make own

Agricultural Shared goal for Ag ext was born in the West.

extension agricultural develop- Its concern is limited to
ment to take place agriculture
Dev com was born in the
Third World and agricul-
ture is only one of its

A Historical Perspective

How did development communication begin?

The idea of communication as a support to development came

from Erskine Childers back in the 1960s. Childers was then the
director of the UNDP Development Support Service in Bangkok.
He espoused the methodology of communication appraisal, plan-
Unit III Chapter 9 145

ning, production, and evaluation for selected developing country

projects supported by the United Nations Development Program
and the UNICEF.

Childers idea of development support communication was pur-

sued in the 1970s by Nora C. Quebral who was then Chair of the
Department of Agricultural Communications, University of the
Philippines College of Agriculture. Her seminal paper, Develop-
ment Communication in the Agricultural Context was presented
in the symposium titled, In Search of Breakthroughs in Agricul-
tural Development.

Basically, we can infer that dev com in the Philippines grew out of
agricultural communication. The political environment in which dev
com was born was the Martial Law years, where agricultural devel-
opment was considered as a priority thrust to stem rural unrest.
However, there were other development concerns that needed at-
tention such as the ballooning population, the economy, and re-
forming agrarian structures. The small teaching staff of agricul-
tural communications in Los Baos realized this and expanded their
coverage. They used a bigger umbrella, which can accommodate
more concerns related to the development of the country.

The concept of dev com is still evolving as long as the develop-

ment process continues. Development as a process is as dynamic as
ever. The changes happening in our time are so fast and dev com
must keep up with these changes. Some of these concerns are found
in the immediate environment of dev com: globalization facilitated
by GATT-WTO or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade,
World Trade Organization (economic environment); decentraliza-
tion and local autonomy (political environment); social protection
(social environment); and ethnic conflicts (cultural environment).

The history of development communication can also be discussed

in terms of its institutional historyhow the College of Develop-
ment Communication began in Los Baos. The University of the
Philippines Los Baos pioneered in the field of development com-
146 Introduction to Development Communication

munication by offering the first graduate and undergraduate cur-

ricular programs in dev com in the entire world. It was here where
the term development communication was coined.

CDC began as the Office of Extension and Publications of the UP

College of Agriculture in 1954. This office was created to dissemi-
nate information useful in improving farming and homemaking
practices and to inform the public about the results of research
being done by Los Baos scientists. After almost a decade, in 1962,
it was converted into the Department of Agricultural Information
and Communications under CA and its first curricular offering was
the Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications. In 1965,
a masters degree program in agricultural communications was of-
fered. In 1968, the department was renamed into the Department
of Agricultural Communications. Five years later, in 1973, the
masters program was reconstituted into a Development Commu-
nication program. A year after, the undergraduate curriculum in
development communication was instituted. The following year,
the Department of Development Communication was born. In
1977, the doctoral program was offered. The department grew into
an Institute in 1987 and was elevated into a College of Develop-
ment Communication in 1998.


Quebral defines development communication as the art and sci-

ence of human communication applied to the speedy transforma-
tion of a country and the mass of its people from poverty to a
dynamic state of economic growth that makes possible greater so-
cial equality and the larger fulfillment of the human potential. Lent
contends that dev com can both be a watchdog or a lapdog of the
government. From the cybernetics perspective, however, develop-
ment communication is essential to society because it negates soci-
etal entropy.
Unit III Chapter 9 147

The late UPLB Chancellor Abelardo G. Samonte (1974) used only

five words to describe dev com and to differentiate it from other
communication fields. He said development communication is
communication with a social conscience.


Flor, A.G. (1992). UpstreamDownstream interventions of development

communication. IDC Faculty Papers.
Jamias, J. (1975). Philosophy of development communication. Read-
ings in Development Communication.
Lent, J. (1977). Development communication: Watch dog or lap
dog? In Development Communication Report. Issue No. 19, Jul7 1977.
Quebral, N.C. (1988). Is it government or people communication?
In Development Communication. College of Agriculture, UP Los
_____________. (1988). Development communication: Status and trends
in development communication. College of Agriculture, UP Los
Samonte, A.G. (1974). A Universitys response to the challenges of develop-
ment. Inaugural Address on His Investiture as the First Chan-
cellor of UP Los Baos.
Todaro, M.P. (1977). Economic development in the third world: An intro-
duction to problems and policies in a global perspective. London:
Longman, Inc.
Chapter 10

S hould development communication be afforded the status of

an academic discipline? Has it contributed to the existing body
of scientific knowledge? Has it offered a unique perspective, phi-
losophy, or paradigm? Critics of development communication do
not think so.

Many of us engaged in the teaching and practice of this craft, how-

ever, know better. We are aware that we do things differently, that
we think differently, that our students are taught differently from
their com arts or mass com counterparts. One practical example is
how we place more emphasis on appropriate low-cost communica-
tion technology. Another is how social considerations outweigh
artis-tic merit in our media productions.

This chapter attempts to lay down the philosophical and theoretical

foundations of development communication.
150 Introduction to Development Communication


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to articulate

these philosophical and theoretical foundations.

Some of us often encounter situations wherein we are forced to

defend the legitimacy of our discipline. We are confronted with
questions on its nature (i.e., Is this an old product with a new
package?); on its true intent (i.e., Is it simply a euphemism for
propaganda?); and on its theoretical soundness (a former visiting
professor of the UPLB College of Development Communication
authored a doctoral dissertation with the title Development jour-
nalism: the fragile theory and the acquiescent practice in the Philip-

Development communication is a relatively young science and, as

such, will have to undergo its own baptism of fire like all other
academic disciplines. However, both its critics and expo-nents should
note that its claim to legitimacy begins with the assumption that
previously developed models of mass communication are not ex-
actly appropriate to Third World conditions and social realities.

This chapter argues not just for the legitimacy of development com-
munication but also for its potential of becoming a unique and
separate paradigm in the social sciences. For purposes of expedi-
ency and contrast, we will take off from Sieberts Four Theories

The Four Theories of the Press

Students of communication are familiar with Siebert et al.s Four

Theories of the Press. However, it is essential to review some of its
Unit III Chapter 10 151

Siebert et al. outlines four basic rationales for the mass media: the
Authoritarian Theory, the Libertarian Theory, the Social Res-
ponsibility Theory, and the Soviet-Totalitarian Theory. Techni-
cally speaking, these are not theories but types in a typology of
press systems, duly noting that typologies are regarded as legitimate
ventures into theory construction.

The earliest press system follows the Authoritarian model. Of

this, Rivers and Schramm (1969) write:

Modern communication was born in 1450 into an authori-

tarian society. The essential characteristic of an authoritar-
ian society is that the state ranks higher than the individual
in the scale of social values. Only through subordinating
himself to the state can the individual achieve his goals and
develop his attributes as a civilized man. As an individual,
he can do little; as a member of an organized society, his
potential is enormously increased. This means not only that
the state ranks higher than the individual, but also that the
state has a caretaker function and the individual a depen-
dent status.

The press belonged to the office of the king or the emperor or the
Pope and, in some cases, to private individuals who favored and
were favored by royalty and authority. The press was the servant of
the state.

The Libertarian Theory, on the other hand, is the exact anti-the-

sis of the Authoritarian Theory. The press is no longer seen as an
instrument of the government but as a watchdog, a mechanism
through which people may check on government. Man is no longer
conceived of as a dependent being to be led and directed, but rather
as a rational being able to discern between truth and falsehood,
between a better and worse alternative, when faced with conflicting
evidence and alternative choices. Truth is no longer conceived of
as the property of power. Rather, the right to search for truth is one
of the inalienable natural rights of man...(Siebert et al., 1956).
152 Introduction to Development Communication

Furthermore, the Libertarian Theory espouses the total freedom

of the press from government control and influence. All ideas are
to be given a fair hearing. The press becomes a free market place
of ideas and information.

The Social Responsibility Theory is a modification of the Liber-

tarian Theory taken in the context of 20th century conditions, par-
ticularly the impact of the communication revolution. It may be
summarized as follows:

...the power and near monopoly position of the media im-

pose on them an obligation to be socially responsible, to
see that all sides are fairly presented and that the public has
enough information to decide; and that if the media do not
take on themselves such re-sponsibility, it may be necessary
for some other agency of the public to enforce it. (Ibid,

Lastly, the Soviet Totalitarian Theory is a development of the

Authoritarian Theory with some peculiar features of its own. Siebert
et al. describe it as:

...a tool of the ruling power just as clearly as did the older
authoritarianism. Unlike the older pattern, it is state rather
than privately owned. The profit motive has been removed,
and a concept of positive has been substituted for a con-
cept of negative liberty... The American press is not truly
free, the Soviets say, because it is business controlled and
therefore not free to speak the Marxists truth. (Ibid, p.5)

Siebert et al. presented a matrix to differentiate the distinguishing

characteristics of each category under the typology.

One may question the wisdom of using the above typology as a

take off point for development communication theory. After all
the typology is almost 40 years old. Neither is it among the more
avant garde theories of communication granting that it may be
called a theory at all. These observations, however, are beside the
Unit III Chapter 10 153

The primary thesis of the Four Theories model is that the press
always takes the form and coloration of the social and political
structures within which it operates. Ogan (1982) correctly identi-
fies this as the basic assumption for a fifth theory. Moving a step
further, we could even argue that such press systems were in fact
needed to achieve the goals of the given society. It may be noted
that Siebert et al.s typology covers the major types of social and
political structures analyzed by historians and political scientists
during their time. Less than a decade after the publication of their
work, however, another type of social structure began to emerge,
one that would hardly escape notice if only for its pervasiveness.
This was the developing society, the predominant social genre in
post-colonial Asia, Latin America, and Africa. It is in the context
of this particular society and its global environment that a fifth
theory finds its application.

The Fifth Theory of the Press

One may argue with little reservation that development communi-

cation is the Fifth Theory of the Press. It is the appropriate system
given the social and political structures of the developing world
and its current global environment. Compared with the other four,
development communication would stand out distinctly as a sepa-
rate type in the Siebert typology. Although we observe that it shares
features with and, perhaps, may have developed from both the So-
cial Responsibility and Soviet Totalitarian theories, we argue that it
has its own unique premises, philosophy, and perspective.

A fifth column may be added to the Siebert matrix with the follow-
ing entries:

Development Communication

In the Third World
In United Nations food and agriculture programs, Latin Ameri-
can educational campaigns as well as international population
154 Introduction to Development Communication

In church outreach programs and government community de-

velopment projects
As an academic program of the University of the Philippines
College of Agriculture

Out of:
The philosophy of Gandhi (the full realization of mans poten-
The writings of Seers, Lasswell, Lerner, Freire, Schramm, and

Chief purpose:
Social transformation and development
The fulfillment of basic needs

Who has the right to use media:

Government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs),
religious orders, grassroots organizations, state colleges and uni-
The audience themselves: farmers, rural women, out-of-school
youth, the urban poor, illiterates, etc.

How media are controlled:

Social priorities and realities

What are forbidden:

Government propaganda
Manipulative advertising
Immorality/obscenity, Inanities (messages that serve no posi-
tive social purpose)

Development agencies
Unit III Chapter 10 155

Essential differences from others:

Although it is non-profit, ownership is not limited to the gov-
ernment sector
Although it may not be controlled by the state, it is purposively
employed for social transformation

Dialectical Superiority

We may deduce from the standard Four Theories model that the
relationships between the different types are dialectical. From an
authoritarian thesis there developed a libertarian anti-thesis. The
synthesis of these two resulted in the Soviet totalitarian model dur-
ing the early years of the twentieth century. The label Soviet to-
talitarian, however, is quite loaded with connotations reminiscent
of the Cold War Era when this typology was formulated. We could
profit from Lowensteins example of calling the Soviet totalitarian
system as the social centralist system instead. Transformed into
a thesis itself, the social centralist rationale developed an anti-thesis
in the form of the social responsibility theory of post-war United
States. Granting that the social centralist model is the thesis and
that the social responsibility theory is the anti-thesis, there ought to
be a new synthesis. This synthesis may be found in development

Hence, the proposition may be forwarded that development com-

munication is the synthesis of the social centralist and the social
responsibility theories. Dev com combines the positive aspects and
negates the negative features of both. Thus, it is dialectically supe-
rior to the earlier ones. In fact, dev com even transcends the as-
sumptions underlying the Four Theories model.

Cultural Foundations

The standard Four Theories model addresses the relation-ship

of Man to the State. Development communication addresses the
156 Introduction to Development Communication

relationship of Man to his entire Environment. In fact, the sound-

ness of this theory may be traced to its profound appreciation of
the role of communication in all walks of life.

One may glean from the wisdom of traditional cultures that devel-
opment communication is what communication at all levels (whether
it be interpersonal, group, media, societal, intercultural) ought to

Consider the following quotations:

A person with good sense holds his tongue.

Proverbs 11:12

Gentle words cause life and health.

Proverbs 15:4

Ang bibig na tikom, ligtas sa linggatong.

Tagalog saying

However sharp the knife, sharper yet is the human tongue.

Malay saying

These proverbs and sayings apparently put social and individual

well-being above freedom of expression, thus contradicting the
Libertarians. Most ancient traditions share the same belief that man
is the only creature blessed by nature with the facility or power to
communicate through the spoken or written word. Hence this power
carries with it great responsibility. It should be used with utmost
discretion, benevolence, and purpose.

In India, for instance, one cardinal moral tenet is that of satya or

benevolent truthfulness. It disallows the use of expression for the
detriment of others. In fact, speech is so highly regarded that spiri-
tual discipline includes the practice of mauna brata or silence. Inter-
estingly enough, Christian monks such as the Trappists have adopted
this practice to this day.
Unit III Chapter 10 157

The Libertarian arguments may be traced to the ancient Greeks,

particularly to Socrates. However, their tradition likewise had cer-
tain guidelines on communication. The Sophists declare, There is
no wisdom like silence. Even the most zealous of Libertarian ad-
vocates during the 18th century believed that communication should
be developmental and purposive. Benjamin Franklin listed Silence
as the second of his Thirteen Virtues in the Pursuit of Moral Per-
fection. His guideline: Speak not but what may benefit others or
yourself. And there is not a tinge of the precedence of freedom
of expression in this aphorism.

Development communication is consistent with values such as these.

While conventional journalistic decisions are determined by con-
siderations such as proximity, timeliness, prominence, significance
and conflict, values central to development communication include
personal or social transformation (development in the Gandhian
sense), purposiveness, participation, responsibility, education (con-
tent-wise and presentation-wise), practicality, and ephemeralization.

The Socio-Political Framework

The role of communication in society is far more critical than what

Libertarians or Social Responsibility advocates contend. Commu-
nication is one of the major variables of social transformation and
should thus be employed to achieve the highest social goals at the
shortest amount of time. This argument originated from the writ-
ings of Lasswell, Lerner, and Schramm. Recent theories such as the
Agenda-Setting Function of Media and the Media Dependency
Model are supportive of this line.

Recent events, in fact, have contributed immensely to the valida-

tion of the Media Dependency Theory of De Fleur and Rock-each.
This model proposes that correlations exist between the degree of
societal stability, the centrality of information of media systems,
and media dependency. This dependency in turn brings about cer-
tain effects on the audience which feed back on societal stability
and media systems.
158 Introduction to Development Communication

At the empirical level, we may relate this to the CNN phenomenon

during the Gulf War. This crisis situation had a direct bearing on
the degree of societal stability. Decreased stability prompted a change
in programming among television networks all over the world. The
shift was particularly felt in the United States and the Philippines
wherein public affairs/special events programs have pre-empted
entertainment programs. This may be interpreted as an increase in
the centrality of information offered by media systems. Media de-
pendency likewise increased, prompting CNN to declare that Ameri-
cans have become TV addicts overnight. The effects were particu-
larly obvious in terms of consumer behavior. Panic buying became
widespread. In turn, this behavior fed back on societal stability as
well as on the media systems. In the Philippines, panic buying in-
creased the prices of prime commodities. In the US, both advertis-
ers and network executives voluntarily withdrew their scheduled
commercials because advertisements might be found by the public
to be in poor taste.

The validation of these contemporary social science theories proves

that communication has immediate and profound effects on our
social and political fabric. The channeling of communication re-
sources to worthwhile social ends at the least social cost is called
for. Such is the development communication perspective.

Supportive Arguments from other Disciplines

Contemporary theories in other fields such as economics, psychol-

ogy, physics, cybernetics, and biology are likewise compatible with,
if not supportive of, development communication.

In the field of economics, for instance, theorists such as Fritz

Machlup, Marc Porat, and Meheroo Jussawalla have declared that
predominant world economies have become information-based.
Economies of scale are making way to economies of networking.
Hence, growth industries, particularly in the developed world, are
information industries. The mere fact that information and com-
Unit III Chapter 10 159

munication resources bring tremendous economic and social power

provides us with an additional rationale for development commu-

In the transpersonal psychology of Abraham Maslow, self actual-

ization is considered the goal of all human beings. It can only be
achieved once higher needs are fulfilled. Maslow observed that ser-
vice to others is one of the surest means by which these higher
needs are satisfied. Communication should thus be employed for
the service of others. Development communication, from the stand-
point of transpersonal psychology, is what communication ought
to be.

Interestingly enough, we may find additional rationales for deve-

lopment communication in contemporary physics and biology.

Quantum physics, in particular, conceives the universe as an inter-

connected web of relations. Sub-atomic particles, the stuff that the
universe is made of, is, in essence, a set of relationships that reach
outward to other things (Stapp, 1971). Matter, then, is not made up
of things but of interconnections and links. The key phrase being
set of relationships, interconnections, and links. Could it be
that from the standpoint of quantum physics, communication mat-
ters more than matter?

The biological contribution to this framework comes from recent

research on evolution. Reporting on the results of studies by biolo-
gists Gautier and Kingdon, Maranto (1986) writes that in the case
of certain species Evolution is being prompted not by standard
devices of natural selection such as predation, food supply and bio-
logically advantageous mutations, but by an in-crease in the effi-
ciency of communication.

If we were to incorporate the systems concept of cybernetics into

these arguments and apply these on a societal level, we may say that
communication is critical for societal maintenance and survival. It
should thus be employed primarily for developmental purposes.
160 Introduction to Development Communication

In summary, we maintain that communication, be it at the interper-

sonal, group, mass or societal level, plays a larger, deeper and more
profound role than traditionally accounted for in the Authoritarian,
Libertarian, Social Responsibility, and Soviet Totalitarian theories
of the press. We find evidence of this in economics and in biology,
in physics and in psychology, in traditional cultures as well as in
contemporary sciences.

Development communication takes this profound view of com-

munication as its primary rationale. It addresses not only the rela-
tionship of Man to the State but the relationship of Man to his
entire Environmentphysical, biological, socio-cultural, and, per-
haps, even spiritualin the pursuit of the realization of his full


De Fleur, M.L. and Ball-Rokeach, S.J. (1982). Theories of mass commu-

nication. Fourth Edition. New York: Longman Inc.
Jussawalla, M. et al. (1988). The cost of thinking: Information economies
of ten pacific countries. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex Publishing Corpora-
Lerner, D. Toward a communication theory of modernization: A
set of considerations. Communications and political development.
Lucien W. Pye, Ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Machlup, F. (1962). The production and distribution of knowledge in the
United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Ogan, C.L. (1982). Development journalism/ communication: The
status of a concept. Gazette (29).
Porat, M.U. (1978). Communication policy in an information soci-
ety. Policy perspectives for the 1980s. Glen O. Robinson, Ed. Praeger
Rivers, W.L. and Schramm, W. (1969). Responsibility in mass communi-
cation. Harper and Row Publishers.
Siebert, F. et al. (1956). The four theories of the press. Urbana, Illinois:
University of Illinois Press.
Stapp, H.P. (1971). S-Matrix interpretation of quantum theory. Physi-
cal review.
Chapter 12
Dev Com and the Policy Sciences

D evelopment communication and the policy sciences are gene-

rally regarded as distinct and mutually exclusive areas of study.
Academics and degree programs, specializing on either one, rarely
have anything to do with the other. These two branches of the
social sciences, however, are inextricably linked. The links are fun-
damental and may be traced before either area was afforded the
status of a science.


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

1. Trace the historical links of development communica-
tion with the policy sciences;
2. Define the policy sciences;
3. Describe the stakeholders of communication policy; and
4. Enumerate methods of policy analysis applicable to de-
velopment communication.
182 Introduction to Development Communication

Historical Perspective

To students of development communication and to students of

the policy sciences, not to mention to those professionally engaged
in the practice of one or the other, two names, those of Harold
Lasswell and Daniel Lerner, sound most familiar.

Pre-empting Shannon and Weaver (1949), Schramm (1955), Westley

and MacLean (1957), Berlo (1960), and Kincaid (1979), Lasswell
(1948) developed the first social science-oriented model of the com-
munication process. Similarly, Lerner was one of those who pio-
neered in relating the study of communication to the process of
modernization and development (See Lerner 1958; Lerner in Pye,
1963). Hardly anybody from the policy sciences are aware of the

Likewise, very few of those engaged in the study and practice of

development communication know that in 1951, Harold Lasswell
and Daniel Lerner collaborated on a volume entitled The Policy Sci-
ences, which is recognized until now, as the seminal work on the
field. Since then, Harold Lasswell has been acknowledged as the
intellectual father of the policy sciences while Daniel Lerner con-
tinues to be a respected figure in this area of study.

It should be noted that while Lasswells communication model pre-

ceded his writings on the policy sciences, Lerners interest in com-
munication came after the publication of their work. Hence, in terms
of conceptualization, it cannot be said that one area of study pre-
ceded or developed completely independent from the other.

What are the policy sciences? How may the policy sciences be re-
lated to development communication in conceptual and empirical
terms? This chapter aims to answer the foregoing questions.
Unit III Chapter 12 183

The Policy Sciences

We now live in an environment where change occurs with increas-

ing rapidity and complexity. Described as a turbulent field envi-
ronment, such a condition has made traditional social science meth-
odology inadequate to solve many of todays societal problems
(Allen, 1978). The policy sciences grew out of this need to reorient
actively the social sciences to the resolution of policy issues
(Ocampo, 1978). Allen relates this anecdote to underscore the need
for sound policymaking in coping with todays turbulent field

Suppose you own a pond on which a water lily is growing.

The lily plant doubles in size each day. If the lily were al-
lowed to grow unchecked, it would completely cover the
pond in 30 days, choking off the other forms of life in the
water. For a long time the lily plant seems small, and so you
decide not to worry about cutting it back until it covers half
the pond. On what day will that be? On the 29th day, of
course. You have one day to save your pond (Allen, 1978).

Encountering similar problems has become a recurring dilemma

especially in Third World societies. One has only to examine the
negative social conditions associated with some advanced
communi-cation technology (i.e., the digital divide; lack of privacy;
societal information overload) to conclude that although techno-
logical progress has grown by leaps and bounds, little progress has
been achieved in anticipating and projecting higher order impacts
and consequences. All too often, todays public policymaker is faced
with very little lead time to solve urgent societal problems.

The term policy sciences refers to the scientific study of poli-

cies and policymaking. Policy refers to a cluster of decisions with a
particular purpose and audience in mind. The word science is
184 Introduction to Development Communication

used to suggest the use of empirical data gathered from systematic

observation. The plural form (sciences) is used to underscore the
interdisciplinary nature of this field (Allen, 1978).

The aim of this supradiscipline is to improve policymaking in order

to provide as much lead time as necessary in the solution of so-
cietal problems. Improved policymaking is achieved through the
application of social and behavioral science knowledge, structured
rationality, and new uses of the scientific method (Allen, p.51).
Hence, a policy scientist (or a policy analyst for that matter) is in-
volved not only in the scientific design, formulation, analysis, and
evaluation of policies. He of she is also concerned with the study
of the policymaking process itself.

The approach of the policy sciences is forward-looking or anticipa-

tory. Dror (1971) clearly describes this particular characteristic of
the policy sciences metaphorically:

Policy sciences theory states that one should not leave the
problem of crossing a river until the river is reached; rather,
one should survey the territory in advance, identify rivers
flowing through it, decide whether it is at all necessary to
cross the riverand if so, where and how to cross itthen
prepare in advance the materials for crossing the river and
design a logistic network so that the material is ready when
the river is reached.

Another significant characteristic of the policy sciences is its inter-

disciplinary and holistic nature. Societal problems are considered
to be multi-faceted and complex. However, certain schools of policy
analysis, particularly the economics school, tend to overlook this
critical prerequisite. Economic policy analyses revolve exclusively
around economic variables (i.e., land, labor, capital, taxes, expendi-
tures, etc.). Policies are roughly classified under two categories: fis-
cal or monetary. In the process, many critical variables such as edu-
cation, communication, and value-orientation are unaccounted for.
Unit III Chapter 12 185

Some would opt for this wider approach. Narrowing down the list
of variables to work on may contribute to parsimony and to a sober
appreciation of the problem. However, all too often, this sober
appreciation leads to a limited perspective and, consequently, to
inadequate solutions or unsound policies.

Dev Com and the Policy Sciences

The affinity of the policy sciences and development communica-

tion does not begin and end with Harold Lasswell and Daniel Lerner.
It may be argued that both writers dealt with mass communication
in general and not with development communication in particular.
It should be noted, however, that a fundamental characteristic of
development communication, which differentiates it from the tra-
ditional view of mass communication, is its purposive nature. Poli-
cies, being guidelines, imply that certain directions are assumed. In
the works of Lasswell and Dror, the purposive nature of the policy
sciences is always underscored.

Although different in scope, development communication and the

policy sciences stem from the same rationale: the need to actively
apply knowledge from and principles of the social sciences in solv-
ing large-scale societal problems under conditions of social change.
Both endorse a normative or prescriptive role for the social sci-
ences; both recognize the imperatives of change; both acknowl-
edge communication as a critical variable.

In a discussion on the policy sciences, Allen (1978) states:

Since communication permeates every facet of a persons

behavior, the study of communication is no less than one
way to study policy making. Communication is a useful con-
cept precisely because it is one more handle whereby we
can effectively study policy making. Communication is one
of those few variables through which any policy decision is
dependent (p. 69).
186 Introduction to Development Communication

Policy Engagement in Development


Socially beneficial policies on communication and information, be

they at the micro (institutional) level or the macro (national) level,
have been acknowledged as necessities in this ever-changing tur-
bulent field communication environment (See AIJ, 1982; Ali, 1983;
MacBride, 1980). If indeed communication and information are to
be efficiently and effectively utilized in the development process,
then policies are needed to direct their use for the achievement of
the highest social good.

Since communication resources in Third World societies are lim-

ited and since information is fast becoming a dominant commod-
ity, the private and government sectors are beginning to feel the
need for communication policies. Lobbyists for authentic develop-
ment communication programs readily assume that rationality pre-
vails in policy undertakings. However, policymaking is not always
determined by rationality. Oftentimes, policymaking becomes a func-
tion of power (Smith, 1976).

Power, in the policy process, refers to the relationship among and

between the different stakeholdersthose who stand to gain or
lose in any specific policy. Policy engagement in deve-lopment com-
munication is no exception. The stakeholders would necessarily want
to take part and look after their own interests.

Stakeholders in Communication Policy

A stakeholder analysis of communication policy would reveal

the interplay of interests of the following sectors: the government,
the education sector, the communication industry, the private sec-
tor, the church, foreign vested interests, and the consumers.

For more than two decades, the national government was the most
powerful stakeholder in communication policy. It is a well-known
fact, however, that this setup merely sought to further existing power
Unit III Chapter 12 187

The governments interest in communication stems from the belief
that The state of politics is a function of the communication pro-
cess (Lerner, 1963). At present, the formulation and implementa-
tion of communication policies rest upon the legislative and execu-
tive branches of the government, respectively. Thus, the govern-
ment is still and will always be a very dominant stakeholder and its
interests should not be divorced from the interests of its constitu-

The education sector rightly belongs among the major stakehold-

ers of communication policy, particularly development communi-
cation policy. However, it is one of the least involved. On the other
hand, the church or the religious sector has, for a long time, recog-
nized the potential of communication in its outreach undertakings
as well as in conscientizacion. Yet its involvement in communication
policy undertakings has been only fairly recent.

In contrast, the communication industry has attempted to play a

vital role in policy undertakings through so-called self-regulating
bodies such as the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas. However,
certain issues have been raised against the industry.

For instance, telecommunications and media in the Philippines are

private enterprises. Naturally, the profit motive provides the domi-
nant drive for the industry. At times, social responsibility is ignored
as long as the product sells. Cases in point are the patronage of
sensationalized rumor type television talk shows, which thrive on
scandal and gossip; the proliferation of smut in the print media;
sensationalized reporting in tabloids; not to mention bold movies.
Observers decry that the libertarian approach to communication
regulation has, at times, made the industry highly commercialized
and susceptible to manipulation by vested interests.

Likewise, having direct access to media and other communication

resources imply access to a significant degree of societal power. It
would not be surprising to find foreign governments applying pres-
sure or lobbying for or against certain communication policies be-
cause of their interests in this type of power.
188 Introduction to Development Communication

Closely related to the foregoing argument is the involvement of the

private sector (represented by its elite, big business) in the com-
munications game. Big business also has high stakes in the national
communication system considering the necessity of advertising gim-
micks and strategies in the free market.

The most important and, at times, the least involved stakeholder in

the communication policymaking process is the consumer. Media
consumers or, in information science parlance, the users are poten-
tially the most powerful stakeholder in communication policy
because of their numbers. Furthermore, the communication sys-
tem exists primarily for them. Yet, at times, the information user or
the media consumer is the least heard. There exists a need to orga-
nize media consumer movements that would actively participate in
the policymaking process.

Some Methods in Communication

Policy Analysis

The introduction of policy science concepts as integral subject

matter in development communication training has strengthened
the links between the two fields. A development communication
specialist, at one time or another assumes the role of a communi-
cation policy analyst because of his proactive posture and his pre-
occupation with purpose. In order to fully act out this role, a rudi-
mentary knowledge of methods in policy analysis, particularly those
related to development communication, is called for. Among these
methods are communication technology assessment, social cost-
benefit analysis, problematique analysis, scenario construction, and
the Policy Delphi.

Communication Technology Assessment

This is a qualitative method that seeks to determine the higher

and lower order impacts of specific forms of communication
technology on the individual and society. Assessment is conducted
Unit III Chapter 12 189

before the adoption of the new technology. In fact, the decision to

adopt or not depends on the findings of the assessment. CTA is
forward looking and adopts certain value premises as to what is
socially beneficial or detrimental to society.

Social Cost-Benefit Analysis

This is a quantitative method, which attaches monetary values on

social conditions brought about by certain communication poli-
cies. The monetary value of the social costs is subtracted from the
social benefits of a particular program or policy. A positive differ-
ence is required for a program or policy to be adjudged as socially

Problematique Analysis

Extensively discussed in Chapters 2 and 4, this procedure seeks to

discover the influential factors of existing problems related to a
communication system. Influential factors are classified as either
subordinate or superordinate. The subordinate influential factors
are merely symptoms of the superordinate influential factors or the
root causes of the problem. It goes without saying that the identifi-
cation and elimination of the root causes prevent the recurrence of
the problem situation.

Scenario Construction

A scenario is a chronological description of hypothetical events

occurring in the future of a particular system (Allen, 1978). It has
also been defined as a description of the conditions and events
under which some system being studied is assumed to be operating
(Kraemer, 1973). In short, scenarios provide an educated descrip-
tion of one of many possible futures of a system. It is usually pre-
sented at the most optimistic or best-case state and the most
pessimistic or worst-case state.
190 Introduction to Development Communication

Allen (1978) enumerates six steps in scenario construction: first,

the system is defined; second, a time period is established for the
system to operate; third, the external constraints on the environ-
ment of the system are defined; fourth, the elements or events within
the system that are likely to increase or decrease the chances of the
systems meeting its goals and objectives are defined; fifth, the like-
lihood of the occurrence of the elements or events are stated in
probabilistic terms; and sixth, a sensitivity analysis of the results is

Policy Delphi

This procedure is a variation of the Delphi technique defined as a

method of structuring a group communication process so that
the process is effective in allowing a group of individuals, as a whole,
to deal with a complex problem (Lin-stone and Turoff, 1975). The
Policy Delphi, in particular, is a tool for the analysis of policy
issues wherein the participation of anonymous respondents (usu-
ally representatives of the different stakeholders of the policy) are
involved. In an exercise such as this, the desirability and feasibility
of certain policies are assessed from the points of view of the dif-
ferent stakeholders.

Turoff (1975) outlines six phases of the Policy Delphi: the formu-
lation of issues; exposing the options; determining initial positions
on the issues; exploring and obtaining the reasons for disagreements;
evaluating the underlying reasons; and reevaluating the options. A
Policy Delphi could go from three to five rounds with its respon-
dents all the while maintaining their anonymity. If a consensus
among the respondents is reached, then a policy that would please
all the stakeholders concerned may be formulated.
Unit III Chapter 12 191

Communication Policy Science

The atmosphere of participation created by recent administrations

has brought about a more significant role for the development com-
munication specialist/policy scientist. His or her involvement in
communication policymaking is facilitated by the so-called institu-
tionalization of people power. His expertise may be directly tapped
by the most important stakeholder, the media consumer.

The participation of information users and media consumers in

policymaking may be realized by the formation of a nationwide
media consumers organization or a federation of local organiza-
tions of this nature in which policy analysts play a significant role.

This proposed organization could initiate media education in the

formal and non-formal modes. Media education at the formal level
may be facilitated by lobbying for the inclusion of such in existing
secondary and tertiary curricula. Nonformal education may be con-
ducted through media consumer sponsored awareness campaigns.

This organization could also conduct its own audience related studies
and policy research. It could establish a nationwide network involv-
ing the church, academic communities, grassroots organizations,
and cause-oriented groups.

Communication policy scientists may also serve as part of the staff

of our legislators in the Congress and Senate. In their private ca-
pacities, they can form research and development outfits or think
tanks whose services may be availed of by government agencies.

Indeed, now is a fortuitous time for policy engagement in develop-

ment communication.
192 Introduction to Development Communication


Allen, T. (1973). New methods in social science research. New York: Praeger
Asian Institute of Journalism. (1982). The communication structure in
the Philippines: Issues, problems and opportunities. Working document
for the roundtable meeting sponsored by the Makati Business
Club. Manila.
Dror, Y. (1971). Design for policy sciences. New York: Elsevier Publish-
ing House.
Kraemer, K.L. (1973). Policy analysis in local governments. Washington,
Lerner, D. (1958). The passing of traditional society: Modernizing the middle
east. New York: The Free Press.
_______. (1963). Toward a communication theory of moderniza-
tion: A set of considerations. Communications and Political Devel-
opment. Lucien W. Pye, Ed. Princeton University Press.
Linstone, H.A. and Turoff, M. (1975). The Delphi method: Techniques
and applications. Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.
MacBride, S. (1980). Many voices, one world. Paris: UNESCO.
Ocampo, R.B. (1978). The nature of and need for policy studies. Paper
presented at the Seminar on Policy Studies. UP College of Public
Administration. Manila.
Chapter 13

I n late 1997, I co-authored an article published in the Tambuli

Journal of USAID Coastal Resource Management Project titled
Transformational Communication. The article contained a boxed
sub-article with the heading, Five Myths on IEC. This boxed
article began with a statement that most planners consider commu-
nication as an indispensable adjunct to any development project,
program, or organization. However, development communication
means different things to different people and everyone seems to
have strong opinions on how it should be carried out. Compared
with other sciences, communication is not such an esoteric disci-
pline far removed from our everyday existence. On the contrary, it
is a pervasive phenomenon that we relate with daily. Thus, every-
body believes that he/she is a communication expert. Unfortu-
nately, however, this universal expertise may have been misled by a
number of myths.
194 Introduction to Development Communication


At the end of this chapter, you should be able to enumerate

and discuss the prevailing myths on development commu-
nication and ICT.

Dev Com Myths

Myth 1: Dev Com is merely supportive to other project com-

ponents or project interventions.

This myth is rooted in early forms of development communication

whose practitioners were relegated the task of designing communi-
cation materials in support of agricultural production. In reaction
to this supportive role, communication experts have tried to de-
bunk this myth early on. Hence, the outright refusal of senior com-
munication faculty of the University of the Philippines Los Baos
to adopt the phrase development support communication being
used by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Communication is a legitimate intervention in itself. In fact, many

would argue that in projects that aim for long-term behavior change
(i.e., population control, social forestry, and even resource manage-
ment), communication becomes the main intervention. Some would
even go as far as saying that the development process is a commu-
nication process.

Myth 2: Dev com means communication media or materials.

Communication is a process. It does not refer to media nor mate-

rials only, which are but elements in this process. In a working
environment ruled by management audits and performance indica-
tors, it is all very convenient to focus on concrete deliverables and
output such as posters, leaflets, TV spots, or press releases. How-
ever, in doing so, we may be missing the whole point of having an
Unit III Chapter 13 195

IEC component in the first place, which is to effectively tap the

spontaneous and dynamic societal process that brings about social
change. We cannot substitute this process with any given material.
We can only hope to facilitate it.

Myth 3: The development project, program, or organization

is the source of information.

Being a process, we cannot really determine where communication

begins and ends nor can we accurately identify the original source
and the ultimate receiver. We tend to suffer from the illusion that
the development project, program, or organization is the source of
communication all of the time. This is not really the case because
we conduct needs assessments, rapid rural appraisals, and Knowl-
edge-Attitude-Practice (KAP) studies wherein our beneficiaries
become the main source of information.

The development process may be considered as an ongoing dia-

logue between the project, program, or organization and the ben-
eficiaries, that lead to mutual understanding on what measures to
take. Hopefully, this understanding will result in social action that
will bring about social change.

Myth 4: Communication is not difficult. Its a relatively minor


In development settings characterized by limited resources and sur-

vival-type priorities, communication may very well be a one-man
job. For instance, graduates of most development communication
schools are trained to expect the least in terms of resources and do
the most in terms of workload. Hence, their skills should cover
every requirement in the production process, from planning, visu-
alization and writing to artwork execution and pretesting. How-
ever, dev com work is far from simple.

Judging from experience, the creative (i.e., production) part of dev

com is indeed hard work but, in a sense, the most gratifying. The
really difficult part of communication work (and perhaps the most
time consuming) is pleasing everybody from your superior to the
196 Introduction to Development Communication

subject matter specialist and, finally, to the user whose opinions

(and tastes) may altogether vary from those of the decision-maker.
This potentially is the most time consuming particularly since, right
or wrong, everyone believes that he/she is a communication

Myth 5: If the project fails, communication is to blame.

Actually, this myth goes around in a more positive form. We have

heard statements such as these coming from project assistants to
fellow consultants, LGU officials to line department secretaries:
My activity flopped because I had no communication materials,
The project failed because it lacked communication support,
Communication is the key to our organizations success. There is
this prevailing feeling that communication is the panacea of all prob-
lems of development projects, programs, or organizations. On one
hand, such statements are indicative of an increasing appreciation
of communication as a social intervention. On the other, it may
lead to unrealistic expectations on what dev com can do.

People still cling to these five myths as they did years ago. However,
since the Okinawa Summit of 2000, when the G10 nations an-
nounced their resolve to bridge the Digital Divide, a new set of
myths, this time on information and communication technology or
ICT are being embraced by many. Since a considerable amount of
your work will involve ICT, I am enumerating these myths for you.

ICT Myths

ICT Myth 1. Technology as the Panacea Myth or Install a

computer in the boondocks and you have instant develop-

Those who accept this proposition generally adhere to the techno-

logical paradigm of development. In other words, they believe that
Third World countries are poor because of the lack of technology.
There are certainly other factors that contribute to poverty and
Unit III Chapter 13 197

underdevelopment. Furthermore, they ignore the fact that the ICT

revolution began in the developed world where a completely differ-
ent set of social, cultural, and economic conditions exist. These
conditions will have to be satisfied before the economic boom
brought by ICT to the West can be replicated in the South.

ICT Myth 2. The Direct User Myth or Farmers, fishers, in-

digenous peoples, rural women, and out-of-school youth
should be the users of ICT.

This belief forwards that ICT interventions for the poor should be
targeted directly to the poor. This leads to the issue of appropriate
technology. We cannot really expect marginal fishers to surf the
Net. They would rather use nets beyond the surf. But this is hardly
the point. ICT is most useful in building the capacities of support
agencies for the poor. This myth blatantly forgets one of the most
basic principles in development assistance, the multi-step flow of

ICT Myth 3. The Myth of Programmer Supremacy or ICT is

just another name for IT.

Narrowly put, ICT mainly refers to computer science. This myth

effectively marginalizes other technology such as telecommunica-
tions and multimedia. More seriously, it effectively marginalizes other
disciplines such as communication, cybernetics, systems theory, and
network science, all of which figure prominently in ICT and are
claimed not only by the engineering sciences but the social sciences
as well.

ICT Myth 4. The Myth of Infrastructure Determinism or

Build the infra then everything else will fall in place.

At the turn of the century or the millennium, rather, there was a

concerted effort among development agencies to build up their
infrastructure. Many of these infrastructures are now in place. How-
ever these networks run the risk of becoming white elephants be-
cause there is hardly any content. During the First National Partners
198 Introduction to Development Communication

Meeting of the Philippine Research and Education Government

Infrastructure Network, this concern was whispered by many of
the participants who now had access to broadband and wireless
technology but had comparatively little appropriate content to feed
their networks. Note that the Internet would not have flourished
with the World Wide Web. There is more to ICT than infrastruc-

ICT Myth 5. The Myth of a Free Market Prevailing or As

long as there is content in whatever form, then it will be ac-
cessed and used.

There is roughly over a billion sites in the World Wide Web. Some
of these sites, such as Google, get millions of hits a day. However,
a larger number hardly get any hits at all. Perhaps, it is a function of
attractive, sophisticated interface designs. Six decades of commu-
nication science research tell us that content needs to be appropri-
ately referenced, packaged, presented, maintained, and managed
with the user in mind. Yes, perhaps the Web is a free marketplace
of information and knowledge. But as Marshall MacLuhan (the
person who coined the phrase global village) said 50 years ago,
The medium is the message.

Attendant to this myth is a predominant opinion that application

standards to reference, package, present, maintain, and manage
content should be determined on a de facto basis rather than decided
upon collectively. Our experience with proprietary software (as com-
pared with open source) proves that a de facto standards system
may be taken advantage of by enterprising minds.

To conclude this chapter, let us note that if communication and

ICT are expected to contribute to development, then we must un-
derscore the fact that development is still a social process.
Unit III Chapter 13 199


Writing this book has provided us with an opportunity to give

vent to a passion that has been consuming us at UPLB for the past
years. That passion is advocacy for development communication,
as theory and as practice, or as science and praxis if you will. We
cannot tire of this passion since we have given dev com the best
years of our lives.

The year 2002 marked the 30th year of development communica-

tion as an academic field. UPLB old-timers remember when it was
the innest thing in town. Yet as the pages of the book have shown,
we had our share of critics. We had to struggle for legitimacy.
After more than 30 years, can we safely say that we have pre-
vailed? After all, the best test for a discipline is its endurance.

Endurance, however, is a function of adaptability and applicabil-

ity. Has development communication adapted to evolving trends
in the social sciences? Is it being applied in solving societal prob-
lems? Most certainly, it has. But when applied as such, do people
recognize it as development communication or does it come un-
der a different label such as Social Marketing or IEC? Has devel-
opment communication finally lost its relevance?

Not long ago, we attended a national conference on distance edu-

cation organized by the Asian Institute of Journalism. One of the
papers presented during the conference dealt with a case study on
communitarian communication. The presenter was formerly the
dean of the UP College of Social Work and Development. We
chatted briefly after the conference and she commented that the
problem with development communication is that it is top-down.
I answered that she must have been misinformed about dev com.
She responded by saying that this was the prevailing consensus
among her colleagues in the NGO network.

Have we at the College of Development Communication been

unfairly branded as top-down in approach or is this how we project
200 Introduction to Development Communication

ourselves to be? More importantly, is this how we perceive our-

selves to be? Is development communication just a glorified label
for agricultural communication, as some of our critics would have

If anything, this book proves that it is not.

Furthermore, development communication science has explored

initiatives other than those mentioned in this book. It has ana-
lyzed its role in peace and conflict. It has investigated the collec-
tive mind. And it has looked into the Filipino soul or diwa.

Many of us believe that in our diwa, we can find a Filipino value or

perspective on communication that is unique from the Western
value or perspective that we borrowed from the libertarians in
Europe through the Freemasons in the propaganda movement.

Our ancestors held communication in awe. For instance, it was

believed that among all creatures, speech was unique to man (tao)
who had consciousness (malay) and thus was used judiciously and
with a great sense of responsibility. Among the indigenous Filipi-
nos, silence was a greater value than freedom of speech. Upon
analysis, in fact, this diwa would prove to be more consistent to
the pan-disciplinary perspective than the libertarian perspective.

As mentioned more than once in the preceding chapters, systems

theory forwards that communication is a critical function in all
living systems, from the simplest unicellular amoebae to the most
complex of social systems, which is the global society. Interest-
ingly enough, most of our scholars are preoccupied with one fun-
damental question: How does communication transform society?
Or, more pragmatically, how can we employ communication to
effectively transform society to its ideal state?

It would not come as a surprise if these questions were answered

by the development communication practitioner way ahead of the

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