Comment Paper – 3: Edutainment

Clockwise from top left: Marge, Homer, Bart, S...The term “entertainment-education” mostly applies to the function of the media, which is educating the audience. Edutainment consist of two parts: education and entertainment, where the audience is learning from each other. Like The Diffusion of innovations theory, entertainment-education (EE) is concerned with behavior change through dissemination of information. Surprisingly, Singhal and Rogers accept entertainment-education not as a theory of communication, but as a strategy or tool which can bring social change (Klein, 2011. p. 906). In my opinion, edutainment is a communication concept, which involves many theories.

That is why I think EE can be explained not only by Diffusion of innovation theory but also Social learning theory. Paul A. Cantor in “The Simpsons” describes the movie from atomistic politics and the Nuclear Family view. Simpson and his family members present American values and satirize political issues. Cantor explains Bart’s character and how he affects American teenagers. Here we can see agenda setting theory. In addition “The Simpsons” is broadcast not only in the U.S. but also to other parts of the world, and the meaning of the humor changes. For example, the Russian version of the Simpsons creates stereotypes about American families and their way of life. Here we can still see agenda setting theory.  

Media can educate. For example, every TV viewer can learn not only new skills, but also become familiar with new ideas. Mutz and Nir are saying that viewing TV programs in prime-time can cultivate symbolic representations of power (2010, p. 198), which reflects to cultivation theory. It is obvious that media is a good tool to educate by entertaining. TV’s persuasion was quite successful during the early period of former Soviet countries’ independence, when the Soviet system was falling down in 1991. New independent governments tried to use foreign TV, not as propaganda, but as a tool to influence people’s mind.

The Simple Maria is a tele-novella about a Mexican woman from a rural area who came to a big city to start a new life. Naive and selfish, she ended up falling in love with a rich person and faced many difficulties, but at the end she established her own sewing company. This was a popular movie series during my childhood, when all my relatives lost their jobs and did not know what to do. Surprisingly, this movie motivated women from our village to go to the big city and start small businesses. Even 20 years later I have an aunt who is still running a big clothing company in my native city. Examples like this in the communication field can be analyzed by social learning theory.

To sum up, I think EE is not a theory but can be considered as a model for establishing effective communication. Depending on the research problem, EE can by analyzed as a model by different theories (Agenda setting theory, Cultivation theory, Social Learning theory, Diffusion of innovation theory). One of them is communication for development. EE can be an especially good alternative in countries with less developed media.


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