Mass media messages often prompt dialogue among listeners or viewers. Such dialogue may reinforce social stability or lead to pro-social change. If the dialogue prompted by a mass media programme is central to understanding media effects, what forms does this dialogue take, and how does it influence people to change their thinking and actions? These questions formed the basis of the present investigation, which examined an entertainment-education (E-E) programme in India, developed with the intention of promoting pro-social change (e.g., gender equality, family planning, etc.). We discovered that internal dialogue (parasocial interaction) between listeners and media characters lead to conversations about the educational content of the media programme that fuelled support for social stability and for pro-social change. Second, interpersonal dialogue within families, and dialogue at the group level among community members, facilitated discussion of sensitive or taboo subjects in ways that were supportive of social stability as well as social change in family and community dynamics. Finally, listeners and viewers of E-E programmes confronted powerful forces of resistance as they attempted to change community power dynamics. Despite these difficulties, our findings suggest that synergistic possibilities for social action emerge when E-E broadcasts disseminate pro-social models of behaviour that spark various forms of dialogue among audience members.
- parasocial interaction
- social change