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Bridging Theory and Practice in Entertainment Education: An Assessment of the Conceptualization and Design of Tsha Tsha in South Africa:

Bridging Theory and Practice in Entertainment Education: An Assessment of the Conceptualization... The entertainment–education (E-E) strategy in development communication has been widely described as the panacea to development challenges in Africa. However, despite its growing application on the continent, E-E is still argued to be inhibited from contributing meaningfully toward development efforts. E-E interventions are argued to be hamstrung by their failure to embrace theoretical advances in development communication and E-E scholarship and for remaining rooted in the modernization paradigm. Using the social change paradigm as its framework, this article assesses the notions of development, change, communication, audiences, and education that underpin the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha, an E-E television drama that uses a novel cultural approach to address issues surrounding HIV and AIDS in South Africa. The data informing the study were gathered through a Focused Synthesis Approach and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The study’s findings show that significant efforts have been made by Tsha Tsha’s producers to bridge E-E practice and contemporary development communication and E-E scholarship. The data analyzed in the study show that Tsha Tsha’s notions of development, change, education, communication, and audience have been significantly remoored in line with the core tenets of the E-E for Social Change paradigm. The implications of the study are that more engagement and synergies need to be cultivated between E-E practitioners and development communication and E-E scholars if E-E’s full potential, in contributing to development challenges on the continent, is to be realized. Keywords entertainment–education, development, communication, social Sciences, social change, HIV and AIDS, subaltern However, despite the growing presence of E-E interven- Introduction tions that address development challenges such as HIV and The entertainment–education (E-E) strategy has been invari- AIDS in South Africa, most E-E interventions are yet to be ably described as the viagra of health communication critically appraised and documented in academic literature. (Netherlands Entertainment-Education Foundation & Johns With most literature on E-E in the country existing only in Hopkins University/Centre for Communication Programs, the form of nongovernmental organizations’ reports and 2001, p. 2). E-E, conceptualized as the intentional, strategic, workshop notes, very little is known about the interventions’ and theoretically based process of developing educational epistemological foundations and aims, theoretical premises, messages using media platforms to facilitate a desired behav- and methodological approaches (see Tufte, 2005). Therefore, ioral or social change, has grown in terms of scope of appli- the contribution of E-E interventions in South Africa to the cation in Africa (Govender, 2013). Although E-E has been development of the E-E strategy in development communi- utilized to address a number of health-related issues such as cation worldwide remains scant (Govender, 2013). It there- blood pressure, smoking, vaccine promotion, and family fore remains largely unknown whether the burgeoning E-E planning globally (Singhal & Rogers, 2001; Tufte, 2005), the last 25 years have witnessed an exponential rise of E-E inter- ventions on HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and support in 1 Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa South Africa (Govender, 2013). E-E interventions have North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa assumed a key role in addressing a range of HIV and AIDS– Corresponding Author: related topics in a country where 16.8% of adults aged 15 to Blessing Makwambeni, Media Department, Cape Peninsula University of 49 are estimated to be HIV positive (Statistics South Africa, Technology, 80 Roeland Street, Cape Town 8000, South Africa. 2013, p. 3). Email: blessmak@gmail.com Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open interventions in South Africa have reached their full poten- strengthen its E-E strategy. Third, evaluation research shows tial in contributing towards resolving development efforts by that the television drama has been effective in increasing tapping into theoretical advances in development communi- condom use and positive attitudes to people with HIV and cation and E-E. Waisbord (2008) contends that although AIDS among others (Hajiyiannis, 2007). Fourth, Tsha Tsha’s critical approaches have enriched the field of development E-E strategy is based on a novel cultural approach that is communication by raising questions and opening new ana- claimed to be a marked departure from E-E interventions in lytical dimensions on how development, communication, the dominant paradigm. Fifth, studying Tsha Tsha was con- culture, and change are conceptualized and articulated into venient for the researcher because CADRE, the producers of development communication interventions, the situation on the television drama, provided the researcher with easy the ground reflects a continuation of modernization and dif- access to recorded Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs) of the fusionist practices. television serial and other supporting documents relevant to A number of scholars such as Tufte (2005), Dutta (2006), the study. Furthermore, published and unpublished docu- Waisbord (2008), and Nyamnjoh (2010) have argued that ments that provide insight into the conceptualization and development communication efforts in developing countries design of Tsha Tsha were easily accessible from CADRE’s are still inhibited from reaching their full potential to contrib- website. These characteristics provided interesting entry ute toward development efforts due to their continued predi- points to understanding whether (and possibly how) Tsha cation on modernization. They contend that contrary to Tsha has managed to bridge the gap between contemporary claims made by contemporary development communication development communication (and E-E) scholarship and practitioners and scholars that the dominant paradigm in practice. development communication has passed, a wide chasm still exists between programmatic experiences and contemporary development communication theory. This observation is par- Criticism of Contemporary Development ticularly unsettling given that it contradicts the undergirding Communication and E-E Interventions ethos of development communication of being a theory- based field whose efficacy reposes on an unerring commit- Over three decades after Everett Rogers’s (1976) famous ment to bridging the gap between practice and theory proclamation that the dominant paradigm in development (Waisbord, 2008). Obregon and Tufte (2013) posit that E-E communication has passed, the criticism directed at develop- interventions in particular can increase their efficacy by ment communication interventions in the developing world articulating new insights into their strategy by remooring has not subsided. Notwithstanding, being lauded as a success notions of development, communication, audiences, culture, story in addressing a wide range of development challenges education, and change in line with post-colonial critiques of in developing countries, E-E interventions have not been development and development communication. immune to the same criticism that has been directed at the In light of this context, the objective of this article is to dominant paradigm of development communication. A num- use the key tenets of the social change paradigm to assess the ber of influential scholars in the field such as Dutta (2008), conceptions of development, communication, audiences, Waisbord (2008), and Obregon and Tufte (2013) contend culture, education, and change that underpin the conceptual- that contemporary development communication practice has ization and design of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy. Tsha Tsha is a not been responsive to paradigm shifts within development multipart South African television drama broadcast since communication scholarship. Consequently, contemporary 2003 that engages young people on issues surrounding HIV development communication practice is argued to be decou- and AIDS. It is set in the Eastern Cape province of South pled from theoretical shifts in development communication Africa and uses Xhosa as its lingua franca but also provides scholarship. In this light, despite arguments that a theory and complementary English subtitles. The main themes fore- practice dialectic exists in the field, Waisbord (2008), Dutta grounded in the E-E drama include HIV-related stigma, dis- (2006), and Obregon and Tufte (2013) contest that develop- closure, condom use, secondary abstinence, voluntary ment communication interventions are still epistemologi- counseling and testing, and sexual assault. Tsha Tsha was cally rooted in the modernization paradigm of development developed through a partnership between the South African whose conceptualization of development, change, communi- Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the Center for AIDS cation, audiences, culture, and education is problematic. Development Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Curious Critics of development communication and E-E practice Pictures, and the Johns Hopkins University Health argue that contemporary interventions are still conceptualized Communication Program (Hajiyiannis, 2007). in modernization terms. Modernization conceptualizes devel- The E-E television drama Tsha Tsha was chosen for this opment as a process through which developing countries adopt study for a number of reasons. First, it is one of a few E-E Western political, economic, cultural (and health) systems interventions in South Africa that consciously makes use of (Inkeles & Smith, 1974). This conceptualization of develop- the E-E strategy. Second, it is also one of the few interven- ment is criticized for being Western-centered, disembedded, tions in the country that utilizes outside technical expertise to and wrongly assuming that development is a unilinear process Makwambeni and Salawu 3 (Ferguson, 1990). The conceptualization of development that posit that development communication interventions should underpins modernization has been criticized for not taking focus less on individuals and pay more attention to the com- into account the contextual variations, complex realities, iden- plex underlying factors that influence individual behavior tities, predicaments, and expectations in developing countries (Nyamnjoh, 2010, p. 9). that hamper development. As such, its understanding of devel- The assumption that development is impeded by lack of opment problems has been found to be narrow. Consequently, knowledge and that development is synonymous with contemporary development communication and E-E interven- Westernization has largely informed the conceptualization of tions whose conceptualization of development is premised on communication and audiences which critics argue limits con- modernization wrongly attribute development problems to temporary development communication interventions. The role lack of knowledge and a “backward” traditional culture (see of communication in modernization is reduced to a process of Linden, 1998, p. 72), rather than the deep structures that merely transferring information from the development experts account for underdevelopment. to receivers with the intention of changing their attitudes and Unlike the modernization paradigm that attributes devel- behavior (Rogers, 1983). This approach reposes on the notion opment problems in developing countries to internal factors that for countries to develop, they need information and persua- such as lack of knowledge and backward traditional cultures, sion through the media (Schramm, 1964). Consequently, the critical and post-colonial scholars contend that exogenous orientation of communication within modernization is essen- and endogenous structural and social factors are responsible tially transmission, diffusionist, vertical, and aimed at manipu- for underdevelopment in developing countries. They posit lation and indoctrination (see Diaz-Bordenave, 1977). The that development is impeded by deep structures of power and top-down approach to communication that is argued to be still inequality that exist between the core and the periphery, as dominant in contemporary development communication and well as within developing communities themselves (Servaes, E-E practice has also been criticized for assuming that the media 1999). At the global level, structural patterns of power and texts have power over audiences. It views audiences as passive exploitation between developed and developing nations are and vulnerable while overlooking their capacity to select, considered to be the biggest impediment to development as reshape, redirect, adapt, and at times completely reject media well as perpertuaters of disparities in the world (Nyamnjoh, content (Nyamnjoh, 2010). 2013). These inequalities are seen as entrenched in laws and Development communication interventions premised on policies that hinter efforts to rid developing countries of their modernization also face criticism for the way they conceptu- challenges. Critical and post-colonial scholars do not only alize and engage with subaltern cultures (Dutta, 2007). consider global structural relations as the sole impediment to Subaltern cultures are treated as backward and an impedi- development efforts, they also contend that structural ment to development. They are largely conceptualized as an inequalities and power relations within developing countries object that can be captured in the lens imposed by outside hinder development. The local structural factors that are con- development experts. Such an approach overlooks the com- sidered to be impediments to development include inequal- plexity and fluidity of subaltern cultures by approaching ity, discrimination, poverty, marginalization, and social them as a stable frame of constructs readily accessible to injustice within communities (see Al-Zoubi & Rahman, health communicators, even those from outside (Dutta, 2007, 2014). As a result, development in this paradigm is viewed as p. 316). Consequently, development communication and resulting from structural and social changes in social rela- particularly E-E interventions are argued to be less effective tions, economic activities, and power structure at the local because they do not incorporate (or at best superficially and global level (Servaes, 1999). incorporate) subaltern cultures into the conceptualization Development communication and E-E interventions and design process of interventions. Instead of locating inter- informed by modernization also face criticism for exclusively ventions within the subaltern people’s culture to understand focusing on individuals as the locus of change in interven- the problem and conceptualize the communication approach, tions (Singhal, 2004; Melkote, Muppidi, & Goswami, 2000). contemporary interventions informed by modernization are Within E-E, interventions back grounding modernization are argued to reduce subaltern cultures into a tool used to figure usually premised on individual centered communication and out the best strategies for enacting change. social psychological theories aimed at changing the individu- al’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors through persuasion or dissemination of information (Lupton, 1994; Melkote & Conceptualizing the Social Change Paradigm in Steeves, 2001). Critical theorists and post-colonial thinkers Development Communication argue that the notion of change that informs such develop- The criticism that contemporary development communica- ment communication interventions is flawed. This notion of tion and E-E interventions are still located in the moderniza- change narrowly locates the individual as the locus of change tion paradigm has persisted despite the fact that theoretical while ignoring the sociocultural and economic contexts debates in development and development communication within which development interventions are located (see have been enriched by critiques drawn from knowledge areas Lupton, 1994). Instead, critical and post-colonial scholars 4 SAGE Open such as post-colonial theory, critical social theory, and alter- receptacles, a liberatory pedagogy conceptualizes education native citizen theories, among others, which have coalesced as a liberating process where subaltern people as knowing into the social change paradigm of development communica- subjects achieve a deep awareness of their social and cultural tion. The social change paradigm has fundamentally reality to change it (Freire, 1970). In the social change para- remoored the “dominant” conceptions of development, digm, education becomes a process which empowers subal- change, communication, audiences, culture, and education tern people to examine their environment and question the that underpinned development communication and E-E in structures that sustain underdevelopment. To achieve this the modernization paradigm (Obregon, 2005; Tufte, 2005). end, critical reflection, dialogue, autonomy, problematiza- This article draws from the central premises of the social tion, conscientization, and problem solving replace rote change paradigm, here-in referred to as E-E for social learning. Consistent with its underpinning values of human change, in development communication in its assessment of rights and cultural citizenship, the liberatory pedagogy Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy in South Africa. The social change actively seeks to understand, appreciate and respect the paradigm provides both a critique of modernization and an knowledge of subaltern people (Singhal, 2004). alternative, expanded, multidimensional, flexible, and Similarly, the conceptualization of communication in the human centered conceptualization of development premised social change paradigm has been remoored in response to the on principles of community involvement, human rights, dia- criticism of the diffusionist approach that characterizes mod- logue, and process orientation (see Figueroa, Kincaid, Rani, ernization. Consonant with Freire’s dialogic pedagogy, com- & Lewis, 2002; Servaes, 1999). munication in the social change paradigm is conceptualized Contrary to the modernization paradigm, the social as a cyclical, relational, and empowering process aimed at change paradigm contends that development problems ema- fostering dialogue with and among members of the commu- nate from social inequalities and unequal power relations in nity to bring about social and individual change. Instead of society rather than a dearth of information. Consequently, the being a preserve of external program experts, communica- paradigm has shifted the locus of change of development tion in the social change paradigm is viewed as an inalien- interventions. Instead of identifying individual behavior able human right which citizens exercise individually and alone as the locus of change, the social change paradigm collectively to emancipate themselves (Figueroa et al., 2002). holistically includes underlying social and structural factors In this light, communication ceases to be a simplistic and that shape individual behavior (Tufte, 2005). The paradigm narrow process of proffering information-driven solutions to articulates individual behavior and social norms to power subaltern people but an iterative dialogous process used to relations and structural conditions in society. By identifying negotiate communication driven solutions which bring about social and structural inequalities rather than individual individual and social change (Figueroa et al., 2002). The behavior alone as key impediments to development, the reconceptualization of communication in the social change social change paradigm also ceases to view diffusion of paradigm has also led to a seismic shift in the way audiences information as the solution to development problems. Rather, are viewed. Whereas audiences are viewed as passive in the the paradigm argues that development problems are solved modernization paradigm (see Tufte, 2001), the social change through an organic process that strengthens the subaltern paradigm conceptualizes them as active decoders who do not people’s ability to identify the problems in their everyday necessarily accept positions offered by media texts. In line life, as well as their capacity to act collectively and individu- with cultural studies and reception theory, the social change ally on their problems as empowered citizens (see Tufte, paradigm acknowledges subaltern audiences’ ability to nego- 2001). tiate oppositional readings from media texts using their cul- It is also important to note that the social change paradigm tural capital. Media texts are seen as constantly mediating is critical of the pedagogic approach that informs the mod- culture, as well as being mediated by culture as lived experi- ernization paradigm. The banking approach that underpins ence (see Tomilson, 1991, p. 61). modernization has been widely criticized for promoting a The social change paradigm also differs markedly with dehumanizing, ineffective, and retrogressive rote pedagogy modernization in the way it conceptualizes and engages with which views subaltern people as “empty vessels” (Singhal, subaltern people’s culture. Instead of seeing subaltern peo- 2004). This banking concept of education has also been criti- ple’s culture as backward and an impediment to development, cized for treating subaltern audiences as objects while also their culture is viewed as central to the development commu- ignoring the complex and process orientation of education. nication process. Furthermore, subaltern peoples culture is no Singhal (2004) avers that such an approach to education fails longer seen as a static object that can be easily captured by to empower and conscientize marginalized people to con- outside development experts, but a complex web of meanings front and problematize their developmental problems. The in flux that interact with structural processes (Dutta, 2007). pedagogic approach that informs the social change paradigm Unlike other development paradigms which jettison subaltern is drawn from Paulo Freire’s (1970) ideas of a liberatory communities’ cultures or merely co-opt them into develop- pedagogy. Unlike the banking concept which views educa- ment communication interventions, the social change para- tion as a process of depositing information on empty digm engages with and works within subaltern people’s Makwambeni and Salawu 5 culture to identify development problems and solutions change, communication, audiences, education, and culture (Dutta, 2007). The development paradigm is premised on the that underpin Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy. understanding that human experience is only meaningful Given the FSA’s propensity to collect a huge corpus of when it finds expression in the richness of the context and data, the challenges in organizing, collating, and synthesiz- culture in which it is experienced (Dutta-Bergman, 2005). ing the data into a meaningful and coherent whole were over- come by focusing the synthesis to the study objectives. This helped the researchers to avoid the temptation to incorporate Method just about any evidence. The FCA proved to be a very useful This study employed a Focused Synthesis Approach (FCA) unobstructive research technique that enabled the study to and qualitative content analysis to understand the conceptual- investigate the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha, ization and design of Tsha Tsha. The FCA is a data inclusive and the television drama’s underpinning notions of develop- qualitative research technique that uses existing information ment, change, communication, audiences, education, and obtained from a variety of sources to understand a particular culture without the subjects being aware that they were under phenomenon (Majchrzak, 1984). In this study, the FCA was observation, a potential key source of error and bias in quali- used to collect, integrate, and synthesize a huge corpus of tative research. The findings of this study were validated at visual and written documents that enabled the researchers to the inaugural conference on E-E in South Africa held at understand the notions of development, change, communica- Rhodes University in 2015 where leading E-E producers and tion, audiences, education, and culture that underpin Tsha technical experts in South Africa participated. Tsha’s E-E strategy. The visual and written documents used in the study were selected insofar as they contributed to the Results and Discussion overall synthesis (see Majchrzak, 1984, p. 59). After collecting visual and written data from a variety of This section of the article engages with the notions of devel- sources using the FCA, the first stage of the analysis con- opment, audiences, communication, education, and change sisted of a preliminary qualitative content analysis of the that inform Tsha Tsha’s cultural approach. It assesses whether television drama serial (visual data). This phase was meant to the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha reflects the help the researchers to familiarize themselves with the televi- existence of dialogue between programmatic experience and sion drama serial’s plot, narrative structure, and E-E content contemporary scholarship in development communication as recommended by Neuman (1997). This stage was fol- and E-E. The data gleaned using the FCA show that Tsha lowed by a more rigorous theoretically guided qualitative Tsha’s producers consciously sought to break away from the content analysis of the television serial. The aim of this anal- dominant paradigm in E-E by premising the television drama ysis was to help the researchers to understand the structuring on Paulo Freire’s ideas on a dialogical pedagogy and Boal’s role of the television drama using the E-E strategy as well as concepts on liberatory theater (see Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). to bring up the manifest and latent theoretical underpinnings The adoption of Boal and Freire’s ideas as key elements of of Tsha Tsha (see Fairclough, 1995). The analysis of the tele- Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy is consistent with efforts being vision serial was guided by the E-E for social change para- made by communication practitioners and scholars to over- digm and its attendant underpinning notions of development, come the limitations of modernization by engaging with change, communication, audiences, education, and culture. post-colonial critiques of development (Melkote & Steeves, The third stage of the analysis consisted of a qualitative 2001). Tufte (2001) contends that the articulation of Freire content analysis of the wide corpus of written documents and Boal’s post-colonial perspectives into development com- gathered using the FCA. These documents were viewed liter- munication and E-E practice has the capacity to influence the ally as data and as a way of integrating evidence (Steyn & conceptualization and design of E-E interventions. Nunes, 2001, p. 39). The following key documents inter alia were analyzed and integrated for evidence: primary and sec- Tsha Tsha’s Conceptualization of Development ondary official and private documents and reports that were published by the CADRE; Curious pictures and SABC edu- Development communication interventions in the moderniza- cation collaboratively or individually; technical partners such tion paradigm of development conceptualize development as as Johns Hopkins Health and Education, South Africa; indi- an externally driven process through which underdeveloped vidual researchers and independent researchers as well as countries catch up with the industrialized globalized North other documents discovered serendipitously in the course of through replication of Western political, economic, and cul- the study. A theoretically guided qualitative content analysis tural systems (Inkeles & Smith, 1974). This conceptualization was used to analyze and unitize the diverse and data collected of development ignores the specificities, context, knowledge, using the FCA to understand the underlying themes and and culture of developing communities (Burger, 2015). In meanings emerging from the content. This process enabled contrast to modernization, contemporary scholarship in the researchers to understand the conceptualization and development communication conceptualizes development as design of Tsha Tsha as well as the notions of development, an endogenous, multidimensional, and participatory process 6 SAGE Open that enhances human potential and improves people’s lives Black South African communities. The E-E content of the (Melkote & Steeves, 2001). Development from this perspec- television drama shows close engagement with a wide range tive emphasizes basic human rights, local knowledge, and of social and structural issues that include gender inequality, cultural identity and not merely economic progress. gender stereotypes, power relations, poverty, social support Development is seen as resulting from structural changes in for disclosure, stigma, as well as sexual rights. Tsha Tsha social relations and power structure in society (Servaes, promotes social change through role models like Andile, 1999). Boniswa, and Sis Wawi. For example, Andile confronts An appraisal of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy shows that the patriarchal values assigned to men by his community by tak- intervention’s conceptualization of development is largely ing up traditional feminine roles such as washing, cleaning, informed by contemporary scholarship on development and and looking after children. Likewise, he also confronts gen- development communication that emphasizes basic human der inequality in his community by speaking out on HIV and rights, local knowledge, and culture. This is evident in the AIDS issues in a society that does not allow women to voice television serial whose story line challenges unequal power their views on issues such as sexuality. The expansion of the relations that perpetuate unhealthy behaviors that drive HIV locus of change in Tsha Tsha to include social and structural and AIDS in subaltern Black South African communities. issues that drive unhealthy behavior in South Africa is con- The key social and structural issues that impinge develop- sistent with the E-E for social change paradigm. ment that are identified in program documents and engaged An analysis of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy further shows that within the television drama include unequal gender relations besides focusing on social and structural factors as the locus between men and women, marginalization of the sexual of change, Tsha Tsha also identified individual attitudes and rights of gay and lesbian people, and poverty. These social behavior as key loci of change. The television drama seeks to and structural issues are identified and harnessed into the change individual behavior and attitudes on issues such as television drama using the cultural approach. This enables condom use, abstinence, and voluntary counseling and test- the television drama to harness the specificities, context, ing. Although the focus on individual behavior as a locus of knowledge, and culture of subaltern communities into the change is a relic of modernization, contemporary literature television drama serial. on social change posits that combining social change and Although the television drama Tsha Tsha seeks to enhance individual behavior change helps interventions to bridge the and improve people’s lives through social change, and dichotomy between development and E-E paradigms. This engages with local knowledge and culture, the evidence col- view is further supported by Tufte (2005) who argues that lected using the FCA shows that the intervention does not although E-E interventions in the social change paradigm emanate from inside the communities it engages with. need to shift their locus of change from individual behavior Rather, in line with externally initiated development inter- to social and structural change, individual behavioral change ventions in the modernization paradigm, the television drama remains a key component of E-E interventions. In Tsha is initiated by CADRE and receives technical support from Tsha’s case, individual behavior change is articulated to the Johns Hopkins University Health Communication broader social and structural change agendas underpinning Program (see Hajiyiannis, 2007) who are external to target the television drama. In this light, what appears to separate communities. It is therefore arguable that although Tsha Tsha Tsha’s articulation of individual behavior change from Tsha’s conceptualization of development appears to be con- the dominant practice in E-E is the decision to enlist indi- sistent with most key aspects of the E-E for social change viduals as advocates of change at the wider community level. paradigm, the fact that the intervention is exogenously initi- The dual focus on individual change and social and structural ated and driven undermines its authenticity (see McKee, change used in Tsha Tsha is further rationalized by the Becker-Benton, & Bockh, 2014). Exogenously driven inter- UNAIDS’s (1999) Communication Framework for HIV/ ventions have been criticized for alienating target communi- AIDS (p. 30): ties and are considered to have less chances of bringing about . . . the individual is a product of the context, and for HIV/AIDS new understandings and practices (Burger, 2015). communications strategy to have a meaningful effect, intervention programs should begin with one or a combination of these domains. Thus individuals should still be targeted, but Locating the Development Problem and Locus of only in the context of their interaction within a domain or a Change in Tsha Tsha combination of domains. The evidence gleaned from the qualitative content analysis of the television drama Tsha Tsha and the program docu- ments shows that the locus of change in the development Assessing Tsha Tsha’s Pedagogic Approach communication intervention is not just the individual but includes social and structural factors that influence individ- The evidence gleaned from the FCA shows that Tsha Tsha’s ual behavior on issues around HIV and AIDS in subaltern producers adopted an approach to education and learning Makwambeni and Salawu 7 that is informed by Freire’s ideas on a dialogic pedagogy. similar to their own. Youth audiences are presented with an From the very onset, the producers sought to avoid a rote opportunity to learn and problematize their challenges as the learning characteristic of didactic pedagogies. Hajiyiannis fictional characters in the television drama grapple, learn, cited in Ogenga (2006) states that Tsha Tsha’s producers and reflect on their own limiting situations (Kelly et al., chose the concept of lessons as opposed to messages because 2004, p. 8). lessons include and acknowledge processes and complexi- Another key element of Tsha Tsha’s pedagogic approach ties. This view chimes with Tufte’s (2005) argument that les- that emerged from the FCA is Freire’s (1968) concept of con- sons are preferable to didactic messaging which views scientization. Tsha Tsha’s producers conceptualize conscien- learning as linear and whose primary objective is to dissemi- tization as a process that raises people’s ability to identify nate information which results in individual behavioral their problems in everyday life and to then act upon them change. Post-colonial scholars like Paulo Freire have criti- individually and collectively to improve their lives. The find- cized didactic messaging because it promotes rote learning, ings of the study show that conscientization is articulated into does not acknowledge the agency of the subaltern, and down Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy to enable youth audiences to identify plays the complexity and process nature of education and and engage with characters who navigate limit situations sim- learning (Akar, 2016; Singhal, 2004). Conversely, a lesson- ilar to their own so that they, as knowing subjects in the pro- based approach acknowledges the complex nature of educa- cess, achieve a deep sense of awareness of the sociocultural tion and subaltern people and views education as a dialogic, and economic realities that shape their own lives. According empowering, and mutually transformative process. to program documents, conscientization is meant to provide a Informed by Paulo Freire’s ideas on a liberatory peda- transformative pedagogic experience that heightens youth gogy, Tsha Tsha’s producers adopted what they describe as a audiences’ capacity to change their reality. Evidence of con- complex, process-oriented pedagogic approach aimed at scientization in Tsha Tsha is manifest through the develop- problem solving (Parker, Ntlabati, & Hajiyiannis, 2005). The ment of realistic, dynamic, and fallible characters (like Andile lesson-based approach is not underpinned by a predeter- and Boniswa) who negotiate complex, limit, and transforma- mined set of indiscrete educational messages or themes. tive situations characterized by poverty and discrimination. Rather, it is premised on key lessons built around covert and This process provokes subaltern audiences to critically reflect educational themes. The covert themes and lessons that the on their own situation thereby raising conscientization and study noted in the television drama include the plight of the possibility of action (see Freire, 1998). The television young people who are burdened with caring for sick and drama is built around realistic, dynamic, and fallible role dying parents, the financial and social risks associated with models like DJ, Boniswa, Andile, Viwe, and Mimi who con- caring for sick parents, the challenges associated with con- stantly model positive and negative behavior within an fronting the possibility of being HIV positive, disclosure and impoverished community. These main characters constantly the personal social challenges associated with it, dealing agonize over their situations (e.g., being HIV positive, les- with HIV stigma as a community, drinking and alcoholism bian, or orphaned) in ways that provoke audiences to be and the risks associated with it, and the challenges associated drawn to think about their similar challenges and situations. with discussing openly about HIV and AIDS (Hajiyiannis & The articulation of conscientization into Tsha Tsha’s ped- Jugbaran, 2005). agogic approach is intended to empower subaltern youth The lesson-based approach employed in Tsha Tsha’s E-E audiences to become active participants in examining their strategy indicates a significant departure from the dominant own constraining environment. Conscientization is viewed practice in E-E where themes are largely overt. Tsha Tsha’s as capable of empowering audiences to question the social themes and lessons are subtly embedded into the television structures that promote unhealthy behaviors in their own drama. The lessons emerge discretely as the plot unravels communities. In this light, the use of a lesson-based approach and the principal characters interact with each other. and conscientization as key elements of Tsha Tsha’s peda- According to Kelly, Parker, Hajiyiannis, and Ntlabati (2004, gogic approach is largely consistent with the tenets of the p. 8), the integration of covert themes into the television E-E for social change paradigm. The paradigm seeks to pro- drama allows the producers to capacitate audiences to learn mote a dialogic pedagogy that emancipates subaltern people about themselves through others rather than through a didac- from marginality by affording them a platform to collectively tic process. Further evidence of the lesson-based approach in and individually pose problems and creatively reflect on the Tsha Tsha is reflected through the covert theme that focuses existing structures of marginalization (Tufte, 2001). on the complex choices that young people encounter when choosing and shaping their relationships in marginal con- texts. Instead of presenting the theme overtly, the television Tsha Tsha’s Engagement With the Subaltern’s drama depicts young people, such as DJ, negotiating the Culture challenges surrounding their relationships in a rural setting. Tsha Tsha’s engagement with subaltern people’s culture and In doing so, the television drama presents its subaltern youth their lived experiences in the conceptualization and design audiences with covert learning opportunities on challenges 8 SAGE Open process is guided by the intervention’s cultural approach. institutions such as the police, health staff, and educators. The broad aim of Tsha Tsha’s cultural approach is to develop Anthropological and ethnographic participatory methods, a television drama whose narrative and characters are steeped such as the provision of disposable cameras to young people in the sociocultural and political context of its audiences’ to document important incidents and experiences in their quotidian lives (see Tufte, 2005). Results from the FCA lives, were also used by the producers to gain a nuanced shows that formative research is the primary tool used by understanding of the culture of the target audience (Kelly Tsha Tsha’s producers to engage with the culture and context et al., 2004). Such practices were critical in providing voice of its subaltern youth audiences. From the initial stages, for- and visibility to subaltern communities and their culture at mative research was identified as a critical tool for enabling the critical stage of searching for social change objectives in the producers to design an E-E intervention that is rooted in the development of the E-E intervention (see Tufte, 2005). the culture, characteristics, needs, and preferences of its tar- Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the subaltern audience and get audience. The centrality of culture in the intervention is their culture and context during formative evaluation also enunciated by Jugbaran cited in Ogenga (2006) and Ntlabati informed the script development phase. During this phase, and Kelly (2004): the writers adapted the script to the culture, needs, and lan- guage of its target audience. The data gleaned from forma- tive evaluation helped the producers and scriptwriters to Formative evaluation is the basic key in the entire conceptualisation create realistic characters whose depth, challenges, and of Tsha Tsha . . . it is our starting point and it is even our end point. contradictions resonated with audiences’ quotidian experi- (It is used) . . . to identify issues and specific cultural practices ences. To align the script to the experiences and culture of impacting on HIV and AIDS in the community; developing and understanding the characters and the dynamics of the relationships subaltern audiences, 50 focus group discussions and inter- between them; testing the plausibility of drama events against the views were conducted with young people familiar with the reference point of life in a small town in the Eastern Cape. context (Pedi in the Eastern Cape) that the producers sought to portray in the television drama (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). The above quotation clearly shows that the producers con- The data from the focus group discussions and in-depth sciously sought to immerse the conceptualization and design interviews were then used to develop the names of main of Tsha Tsha in its youth audience’s culture and context. In characters, develop main characters and the dynamics of line with its cultural approach, Tsha Tsha’s producers the relationships between them, verify details of cultural engaged and interacted with subaltern youth audiences to practices, explore the plausibility of dramatic events against understand their culture and to identify key development the life in a small rural town, and assess the appeal of the issues affecting them. The engagement with youth audi- script to the target audience (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). ences’ culture was achieved through a mutually transforma- The evidence of the articulation of the local culture and tive dialogue between outside technical experts and producers contextual issues and needs in the television drama can be and subaltern communities (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). The seen throughout the television drama serial. One glaring purposive articulation of formative evaluation into the inter- example is the culture of ballroom dancing prevalent in the vention’s cultural approach is a reflection of the producers’ Eastern Cape that was central to the initial episodes. The commitment to understanding issues surrounding HIV and television drama also makes use of Xhosa, the dominant AIDS from within the specific culture and contexts in which language of the Eastern Cape province, where the televi- they arise with the critical input of the subaltern actors (see sion drama is set. Furthermore, the names of the main Airhihenbuwa, 1999; Dutta, 2015). characters in the television drama, Andile, Viwe, and Evidence of Tsha Tsha’s engagement with its audience’s Boniswa, are common among Xhosa-speaking Black culture is reflected throughout the conceptualization and South African youths in the Eastern Cape. At a thematic design process. Formative research was conducted in Pedi, level, the key issues that constitute the locus of change in a rural town in the Eastern Cape. This was done to explore Tsha Tsha (poverty, idleness in rural settings, sexual rights, the town and familiarize with the primary target audience’s gender inequality, and alcoholism) were identified through culture, issues, and places important in their lives (Kelly formative evaluation in subaltern communities in the et al., 2004). This process was meant to enable the producers Eastern Cape. to understand the dynamics, culture, and lived experiences The script development process was followed by a script of subaltern youth audiences. This process was followed by review process consisting of research sessions and work- in-depth interviews, observations, document analysis, and shops with a sample of the target audience. Its purpose was focus group discussions which gave the producers a holistic to evaluate whether the characters developed were authen- understanding of the context, culture, and practices of sub- tic, typical, and resonated with the audiences’ context and altern communities. The data about the audiences’ culture culture. This stage helped the producers to assess whether and contextual issues were gathered from a broad range of the television drama was credible among the target audi- stakeholders in the community that include civic organiza- ence (Kelly et al., 2004, p. 12). The script review process tions, community-based organizations, and governmental reflects the producers’ intention to develop a fictional Makwambeni and Salawu 9 product whose characters and material world are steeped in its audience research during formative evaluation. The adop- the audiences’ quotidian culture and context (Ntlabati & tion of qualitative audience research methods constitutes a Kelly, 2004). The engagement with subaltern audiences’ significant decoupling from the predominantly quantitative culture largely resembles the culture-centered and partici- audience research methods that inform E-E audience evalua- patory development of telenovelas in Latin America, which tion in the dominant paradigm of E-E. The turn to ethno- make visible audiences’ values, culture, and problems in graphic qualitative audience research during formative the story line (Lins da Silva, 1985, p. 114). evaluation epitomizes the emergence of a new approach to Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the subaltern audiences’ understanding audiences as well as E-E texts. Qualitative culture largely transcends the culture co-option approach audience research views E-E texts less as determinant and which informs E-E interventions in the modernization para- isolated phenomenon, and audiences and meaning making as digm. The evidence from the study shows that the producers sophisticated, complex, and culturally specific (see purposively adopted a cultural approach anchored in the spe- Livingstone, 2015; Morley, 1992). cific local context and culture in which subaltern Black By acknowledging the polysemic nature of the E-E text, South African youths experience their everyday lives. This Tsha Tsha’s producers simultaneously recognize the relative process significantly shifts discursive control of the televi- power of audiences. Tsha Tsha’s conceptualization of audi- sion drama, representations, identification of issues, and ences is also reflected through the lesson-based pedagogic solutions from the hands of the “experts” to subaltern com- approach. The use of the lesson-based approach in the televi- munity members. It is also evident through Tsha Tsha’s sion drama shows that the producers do not necessarily view engagement with subaltern youth audiences’ culture that the audiences or learners as empty receptacles but active audi- producers do not view local cultures as an impediment to ences with agency. The analysis of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy development, but a critical component to work with (Dutta, indicates that the appropriation of cultural studies and recep- 2007). Tsha Tsha’s engagement with subaltern’s culture is tion theory during the conceptualization and design process largely consistent with the core values of the social change was a deliberate effort to align the intervention with the paradigm which views human experience as only meaning- social change paradigm which views audiences as active and ful when it finds expression in the richness of culture and media texts as polysemic. context in which it is experienced (Dutta-Bergman, 2004). However, it is arguable that the television drama still works with the subaltern’s culture, rather than within it in ways that Assessing Tsha Tsha’s Conceptualization of go beyond creating a sense of cultural connection to foster- Communication ing belonging and citizenry (see Tufte, 2005). The data collected using the FCA show that the primary aim of Tsha Tsha’s communication strategy is to engage subaltern The Conceptualization of Audiences in Tsha Tsha youth audiences in a dialogue whose end product is to pro- pose collective solutions to health problems afflicting devel- Tsha Tsha’s program documents show that the television oping communities. Pursuant to this, Tsha Tsha’s drama’s conceptualization of audiences is informed by cul- communication strategy is premised on a multimedia tural studies and reception theory. Cultural studies and recep- approach that is aimed at providing alternative public spheres tion theory reject the dominant assumption in E-E that that reinforce social dialogue, advocacy, mobilization, and assumes that audiences are passive. Cultural studies and participation around the television series (Ntlabati & Kelly, reception theory view audiences as active decoders of media 2004). According to Hajiyiannis and Jugbaran (2005), alter- messages who do not necessarily accept the positions offered native dialogic platforms enable Tsha Tsha’s audiences to by the text (see Livingstone, 2015). This conceptualization share information, integrate life experiences, and learn from of audiences is built into the E-E intervention through con- each other in ways that are untenable when using traditional tinuous formative research which enabled the producers to mass media platforms alone. glean insights into the multilayered meanings (intended and Program documents show that dialogue around the main- unintended) proposed by the text as well as the potential dif- stream television broadcasts is complemented by video and ferential readings negotiated by situated youth audiences DVD copies, a 20-min promotion tape, and a participation from the television drama (Parker et al., 2005). Evidence of orientated facilitator’s guide. Copies of the videos of the tele- this nuanced conception of audience is found in the pretest- vision series and the facilitation guide, which is premised on ing phase where audiences’ differential readings of the tele- a deep questioning approach, are shared with key stakehold- vision drama are invited. The opposition reading of the ers involved in HIV and AIDS prevention, support, and care depiction of people living with AIDS in the television drama in South Africa. Key stakeholders such as the Correctional prompted the producers to revise the depictions. Services department, community-based organizations, gov- Tsha Tsha’s conceptualization of audiences from a cul- ernment departments, and other groups that support HIV and tural studies and reception perspective is also evident in the AIDS education and training in South Africa have utilized methodological and epistemological foundation informing 10 SAGE Open the aforementioned resources (Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, position and alternatives, a process which ultimately leads to 2005). According to Singhal and Rogers (2001), the use of a problem solving (Tufte, 2005). multimedia strategy and supplementary campaigns as part of an E-E campaign, as is the case with Tsha Tsha, is consistent Conclusion and Implications with participatory development communication campaigns This article sought to assess the conceptualization and design and results in more effects on audiences compared with dif- of the E-E television drama Tsha Tsha in South Africa to fusionist interventions. understand whether the intervention has jettisoned modern- Although a growing number of contemporary develop- ization and its diffusionist tenets and embraced contempo- ment communication interventions are adopting multimedia rary shifts in E-E and development communication strategies as key elements of their communication approach, scholarship. Using the social change paradigm as its over- Tsha Tsha’s case is interesting in that the producers articu- arching framework, the article assessed the notions of devel- lated the intervention’s multimedia strategy to Paulo Freire’s opment, change, communication, audiences, education, and (1998) ideas on liberatory pedagogy and Boal’s (1979) ideas culture that underpin Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy during the on participatory theater (Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, 2005). To conceptualization and design process. achieve this, the multimedia strategy consisted of sequential The evidence gleaned from the study shows significant complementary dimensions: viewing of videos or DVDs, evidence of ongoing dialogue between Tsha Tsha’s program discussion groups, role-play, and forum theater. The viewing practice and theoretical advances in E-E and development and discussion of issues in the television series is guided by communication scholarship. Tsha Tsha’s epistemological and a facilitator’s guide which was developed by the producers to methodological foundation as reflected in the conceptualiza- promote reflection, problematization, and debate on HIV and tion and design process significantly remoors the interven- AIDS–related issues (see Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, 2005). tions undergirding notions of development, communication, Freire’s dialogic pedagogy encourages audiences as learners audiences, change, culture, and education in line with critical to engage with the E-E content and think critically about the post-colonial insights on development. different pathways to solutions rather than simply transmit- Evidence of significant efforts to bridge theory and ting information to audiences. practice is reflected as follows: First, the intervention’s Tsha Tsha’s multimedia strategy also harnessed Boal’s locus of change is expanded beyond the individual to (1979) ideas on liberatory theater. Tsha Tsha uses forum the- include social and structural factors that perpetuate ater to transforming audience members from spectators to unhealthy behaviors that expose subaltern Black South spec-actors with roles and situations to act. Acting and role- African youths to HIV and AIDS. Second, Tsha Tsha’s play enable subaltern audiences to situate and apply charac- approach to education is articulated to a Freirean dialogic ters’ experiences and challenges to their own lived pedagogy, which seeks to conscientize audiences through a experiences. Forum theater is employed in the E-E strategy process of problem identification, reflection, and solution as an extension of role-play where audience members are posing. Third, Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy reflects producers’ allowed to intervene in the action if they do not agree with conceptualization of audiences as active rather than pas- an issue or with a character. By so doing, forum theater is sive. This conception of audiences is supported by elabo- used within Tsha Tsha’s communication and pedagogic rate efforts to provide voice to subaltern audiences whose approach as a flexible theatrical tool to involve and engage views are usually erased from E-E epistemic structures. subaltern youths in ways that enable them to take up differ- Fourth, Tsha Tsha premises its communication approach ent roles and to also pose solutions to problems afflicting on dialogue and participation as opposed to diffusionist them and their community (see Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, and transmission approaches that inform the moderniza- 2005). tion paradigm. Fifth, Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the sub- On the whole, Tsha Tsha’s Freire and Boal informed mul- altern’s culture shows the producers’ view of subaltern timedia and communication approach signifies a shift from people’s culture as central to the development process diffusionist mass media–based E-E initiatives that inform the rather than an impediment. modernization paradigm. The articulation of a television- This study has shown that theory and practice are com- based intervention to participatory communication tools plimentary in development communication. Consequently, such as forum theater and role-play create a dialogic com- bridging theory and practice should be viewed as a constant munication process capable of empowering subaltern youth preoccupation among E-E scholars and practitioners if inter- audiences (Singhal, 2004). Although the primary communi- ventions are to reach their full potential. This study’s find- cation medium is television, Tsha Tsha’s communication ings reinforce previous studies’ findings that contend that approach is articulated to the E-E for social change paradigm which views communication as a dialogic process. The E-E development communication and E-E interventions can be for social change paradigm seeks to assist the subaltern to strengthened through constant remooring of practice in line reclaim voice with a view to promoting dialogue. Dialogue is with theoretical shifts in scholarship. Equally so, collabora- seen as a key facilitator for critical examination of one’s tions between practitioners and scholars in the field of Makwambeni and Salawu 11 development communication and E-E need to be encour- Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum. aged and supported given that development communication Freire, P. (1998). 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Bridging Theory and Practice in Entertainment Education: An Assessment of the Conceptualization and Design of Tsha Tsha in South Africa:

SAGE Open , Volume 8 (1): 1 – Feb 23, 2018

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Abstract

The entertainment–education (E-E) strategy in development communication has been widely described as the panacea to development challenges in Africa. However, despite its growing application on the continent, E-E is still argued to be inhibited from contributing meaningfully toward development efforts. E-E interventions are argued to be hamstrung by their failure to embrace theoretical advances in development communication and E-E scholarship and for remaining rooted in the modernization paradigm. Using the social change paradigm as its framework, this article assesses the notions of development, change, communication, audiences, and education that underpin the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha, an E-E television drama that uses a novel cultural approach to address issues surrounding HIV and AIDS in South Africa. The data informing the study were gathered through a Focused Synthesis Approach and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The study’s findings show that significant efforts have been made by Tsha Tsha’s producers to bridge E-E practice and contemporary development communication and E-E scholarship. The data analyzed in the study show that Tsha Tsha’s notions of development, change, education, communication, and audience have been significantly remoored in line with the core tenets of the E-E for Social Change paradigm. The implications of the study are that more engagement and synergies need to be cultivated between E-E practitioners and development communication and E-E scholars if E-E’s full potential, in contributing to development challenges on the continent, is to be realized. Keywords entertainment–education, development, communication, social Sciences, social change, HIV and AIDS, subaltern However, despite the growing presence of E-E interven- Introduction tions that address development challenges such as HIV and The entertainment–education (E-E) strategy has been invari- AIDS in South Africa, most E-E interventions are yet to be ably described as the viagra of health communication critically appraised and documented in academic literature. (Netherlands Entertainment-Education Foundation & Johns With most literature on E-E in the country existing only in Hopkins University/Centre for Communication Programs, the form of nongovernmental organizations’ reports and 2001, p. 2). E-E, conceptualized as the intentional, strategic, workshop notes, very little is known about the interventions’ and theoretically based process of developing educational epistemological foundations and aims, theoretical premises, messages using media platforms to facilitate a desired behav- and methodological approaches (see Tufte, 2005). Therefore, ioral or social change, has grown in terms of scope of appli- the contribution of E-E interventions in South Africa to the cation in Africa (Govender, 2013). Although E-E has been development of the E-E strategy in development communi- utilized to address a number of health-related issues such as cation worldwide remains scant (Govender, 2013). It there- blood pressure, smoking, vaccine promotion, and family fore remains largely unknown whether the burgeoning E-E planning globally (Singhal & Rogers, 2001; Tufte, 2005), the last 25 years have witnessed an exponential rise of E-E inter- ventions on HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and support in 1 Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa South Africa (Govender, 2013). E-E interventions have North-West University, Mafikeng, South Africa assumed a key role in addressing a range of HIV and AIDS– Corresponding Author: related topics in a country where 16.8% of adults aged 15 to Blessing Makwambeni, Media Department, Cape Peninsula University of 49 are estimated to be HIV positive (Statistics South Africa, Technology, 80 Roeland Street, Cape Town 8000, South Africa. 2013, p. 3). Email: blessmak@gmail.com Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). 2 SAGE Open interventions in South Africa have reached their full poten- strengthen its E-E strategy. Third, evaluation research shows tial in contributing towards resolving development efforts by that the television drama has been effective in increasing tapping into theoretical advances in development communi- condom use and positive attitudes to people with HIV and cation and E-E. Waisbord (2008) contends that although AIDS among others (Hajiyiannis, 2007). Fourth, Tsha Tsha’s critical approaches have enriched the field of development E-E strategy is based on a novel cultural approach that is communication by raising questions and opening new ana- claimed to be a marked departure from E-E interventions in lytical dimensions on how development, communication, the dominant paradigm. Fifth, studying Tsha Tsha was con- culture, and change are conceptualized and articulated into venient for the researcher because CADRE, the producers of development communication interventions, the situation on the television drama, provided the researcher with easy the ground reflects a continuation of modernization and dif- access to recorded Digital Versatile Disks (DVDs) of the fusionist practices. television serial and other supporting documents relevant to A number of scholars such as Tufte (2005), Dutta (2006), the study. Furthermore, published and unpublished docu- Waisbord (2008), and Nyamnjoh (2010) have argued that ments that provide insight into the conceptualization and development communication efforts in developing countries design of Tsha Tsha were easily accessible from CADRE’s are still inhibited from reaching their full potential to contrib- website. These characteristics provided interesting entry ute toward development efforts due to their continued predi- points to understanding whether (and possibly how) Tsha cation on modernization. They contend that contrary to Tsha has managed to bridge the gap between contemporary claims made by contemporary development communication development communication (and E-E) scholarship and practitioners and scholars that the dominant paradigm in practice. development communication has passed, a wide chasm still exists between programmatic experiences and contemporary development communication theory. This observation is par- Criticism of Contemporary Development ticularly unsettling given that it contradicts the undergirding Communication and E-E Interventions ethos of development communication of being a theory- based field whose efficacy reposes on an unerring commit- Over three decades after Everett Rogers’s (1976) famous ment to bridging the gap between practice and theory proclamation that the dominant paradigm in development (Waisbord, 2008). Obregon and Tufte (2013) posit that E-E communication has passed, the criticism directed at develop- interventions in particular can increase their efficacy by ment communication interventions in the developing world articulating new insights into their strategy by remooring has not subsided. Notwithstanding, being lauded as a success notions of development, communication, audiences, culture, story in addressing a wide range of development challenges education, and change in line with post-colonial critiques of in developing countries, E-E interventions have not been development and development communication. immune to the same criticism that has been directed at the In light of this context, the objective of this article is to dominant paradigm of development communication. A num- use the key tenets of the social change paradigm to assess the ber of influential scholars in the field such as Dutta (2008), conceptions of development, communication, audiences, Waisbord (2008), and Obregon and Tufte (2013) contend culture, education, and change that underpin the conceptual- that contemporary development communication practice has ization and design of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy. Tsha Tsha is a not been responsive to paradigm shifts within development multipart South African television drama broadcast since communication scholarship. Consequently, contemporary 2003 that engages young people on issues surrounding HIV development communication practice is argued to be decou- and AIDS. It is set in the Eastern Cape province of South pled from theoretical shifts in development communication Africa and uses Xhosa as its lingua franca but also provides scholarship. In this light, despite arguments that a theory and complementary English subtitles. The main themes fore- practice dialectic exists in the field, Waisbord (2008), Dutta grounded in the E-E drama include HIV-related stigma, dis- (2006), and Obregon and Tufte (2013) contest that develop- closure, condom use, secondary abstinence, voluntary ment communication interventions are still epistemologi- counseling and testing, and sexual assault. Tsha Tsha was cally rooted in the modernization paradigm of development developed through a partnership between the South African whose conceptualization of development, change, communi- Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the Center for AIDS cation, audiences, culture, and education is problematic. Development Research and Evaluation (CADRE), Curious Critics of development communication and E-E practice Pictures, and the Johns Hopkins University Health argue that contemporary interventions are still conceptualized Communication Program (Hajiyiannis, 2007). in modernization terms. Modernization conceptualizes devel- The E-E television drama Tsha Tsha was chosen for this opment as a process through which developing countries adopt study for a number of reasons. First, it is one of a few E-E Western political, economic, cultural (and health) systems interventions in South Africa that consciously makes use of (Inkeles & Smith, 1974). This conceptualization of develop- the E-E strategy. Second, it is also one of the few interven- ment is criticized for being Western-centered, disembedded, tions in the country that utilizes outside technical expertise to and wrongly assuming that development is a unilinear process Makwambeni and Salawu 3 (Ferguson, 1990). The conceptualization of development that posit that development communication interventions should underpins modernization has been criticized for not taking focus less on individuals and pay more attention to the com- into account the contextual variations, complex realities, iden- plex underlying factors that influence individual behavior tities, predicaments, and expectations in developing countries (Nyamnjoh, 2010, p. 9). that hamper development. As such, its understanding of devel- The assumption that development is impeded by lack of opment problems has been found to be narrow. Consequently, knowledge and that development is synonymous with contemporary development communication and E-E interven- Westernization has largely informed the conceptualization of tions whose conceptualization of development is premised on communication and audiences which critics argue limits con- modernization wrongly attribute development problems to temporary development communication interventions. The role lack of knowledge and a “backward” traditional culture (see of communication in modernization is reduced to a process of Linden, 1998, p. 72), rather than the deep structures that merely transferring information from the development experts account for underdevelopment. to receivers with the intention of changing their attitudes and Unlike the modernization paradigm that attributes devel- behavior (Rogers, 1983). This approach reposes on the notion opment problems in developing countries to internal factors that for countries to develop, they need information and persua- such as lack of knowledge and backward traditional cultures, sion through the media (Schramm, 1964). Consequently, the critical and post-colonial scholars contend that exogenous orientation of communication within modernization is essen- and endogenous structural and social factors are responsible tially transmission, diffusionist, vertical, and aimed at manipu- for underdevelopment in developing countries. They posit lation and indoctrination (see Diaz-Bordenave, 1977). The that development is impeded by deep structures of power and top-down approach to communication that is argued to be still inequality that exist between the core and the periphery, as dominant in contemporary development communication and well as within developing communities themselves (Servaes, E-E practice has also been criticized for assuming that the media 1999). At the global level, structural patterns of power and texts have power over audiences. It views audiences as passive exploitation between developed and developing nations are and vulnerable while overlooking their capacity to select, considered to be the biggest impediment to development as reshape, redirect, adapt, and at times completely reject media well as perpertuaters of disparities in the world (Nyamnjoh, content (Nyamnjoh, 2010). 2013). These inequalities are seen as entrenched in laws and Development communication interventions premised on policies that hinter efforts to rid developing countries of their modernization also face criticism for the way they conceptu- challenges. Critical and post-colonial scholars do not only alize and engage with subaltern cultures (Dutta, 2007). consider global structural relations as the sole impediment to Subaltern cultures are treated as backward and an impedi- development efforts, they also contend that structural ment to development. They are largely conceptualized as an inequalities and power relations within developing countries object that can be captured in the lens imposed by outside hinder development. The local structural factors that are con- development experts. Such an approach overlooks the com- sidered to be impediments to development include inequal- plexity and fluidity of subaltern cultures by approaching ity, discrimination, poverty, marginalization, and social them as a stable frame of constructs readily accessible to injustice within communities (see Al-Zoubi & Rahman, health communicators, even those from outside (Dutta, 2007, 2014). As a result, development in this paradigm is viewed as p. 316). Consequently, development communication and resulting from structural and social changes in social rela- particularly E-E interventions are argued to be less effective tions, economic activities, and power structure at the local because they do not incorporate (or at best superficially and global level (Servaes, 1999). incorporate) subaltern cultures into the conceptualization Development communication and E-E interventions and design process of interventions. Instead of locating inter- informed by modernization also face criticism for exclusively ventions within the subaltern people’s culture to understand focusing on individuals as the locus of change in interven- the problem and conceptualize the communication approach, tions (Singhal, 2004; Melkote, Muppidi, & Goswami, 2000). contemporary interventions informed by modernization are Within E-E, interventions back grounding modernization are argued to reduce subaltern cultures into a tool used to figure usually premised on individual centered communication and out the best strategies for enacting change. social psychological theories aimed at changing the individu- al’s beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors through persuasion or dissemination of information (Lupton, 1994; Melkote & Conceptualizing the Social Change Paradigm in Steeves, 2001). Critical theorists and post-colonial thinkers Development Communication argue that the notion of change that informs such develop- The criticism that contemporary development communica- ment communication interventions is flawed. This notion of tion and E-E interventions are still located in the moderniza- change narrowly locates the individual as the locus of change tion paradigm has persisted despite the fact that theoretical while ignoring the sociocultural and economic contexts debates in development and development communication within which development interventions are located (see have been enriched by critiques drawn from knowledge areas Lupton, 1994). Instead, critical and post-colonial scholars 4 SAGE Open such as post-colonial theory, critical social theory, and alter- receptacles, a liberatory pedagogy conceptualizes education native citizen theories, among others, which have coalesced as a liberating process where subaltern people as knowing into the social change paradigm of development communica- subjects achieve a deep awareness of their social and cultural tion. The social change paradigm has fundamentally reality to change it (Freire, 1970). In the social change para- remoored the “dominant” conceptions of development, digm, education becomes a process which empowers subal- change, communication, audiences, culture, and education tern people to examine their environment and question the that underpinned development communication and E-E in structures that sustain underdevelopment. To achieve this the modernization paradigm (Obregon, 2005; Tufte, 2005). end, critical reflection, dialogue, autonomy, problematiza- This article draws from the central premises of the social tion, conscientization, and problem solving replace rote change paradigm, here-in referred to as E-E for social learning. Consistent with its underpinning values of human change, in development communication in its assessment of rights and cultural citizenship, the liberatory pedagogy Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy in South Africa. The social change actively seeks to understand, appreciate and respect the paradigm provides both a critique of modernization and an knowledge of subaltern people (Singhal, 2004). alternative, expanded, multidimensional, flexible, and Similarly, the conceptualization of communication in the human centered conceptualization of development premised social change paradigm has been remoored in response to the on principles of community involvement, human rights, dia- criticism of the diffusionist approach that characterizes mod- logue, and process orientation (see Figueroa, Kincaid, Rani, ernization. Consonant with Freire’s dialogic pedagogy, com- & Lewis, 2002; Servaes, 1999). munication in the social change paradigm is conceptualized Contrary to the modernization paradigm, the social as a cyclical, relational, and empowering process aimed at change paradigm contends that development problems ema- fostering dialogue with and among members of the commu- nate from social inequalities and unequal power relations in nity to bring about social and individual change. Instead of society rather than a dearth of information. Consequently, the being a preserve of external program experts, communica- paradigm has shifted the locus of change of development tion in the social change paradigm is viewed as an inalien- interventions. Instead of identifying individual behavior able human right which citizens exercise individually and alone as the locus of change, the social change paradigm collectively to emancipate themselves (Figueroa et al., 2002). holistically includes underlying social and structural factors In this light, communication ceases to be a simplistic and that shape individual behavior (Tufte, 2005). The paradigm narrow process of proffering information-driven solutions to articulates individual behavior and social norms to power subaltern people but an iterative dialogous process used to relations and structural conditions in society. By identifying negotiate communication driven solutions which bring about social and structural inequalities rather than individual individual and social change (Figueroa et al., 2002). The behavior alone as key impediments to development, the reconceptualization of communication in the social change social change paradigm also ceases to view diffusion of paradigm has also led to a seismic shift in the way audiences information as the solution to development problems. Rather, are viewed. Whereas audiences are viewed as passive in the the paradigm argues that development problems are solved modernization paradigm (see Tufte, 2001), the social change through an organic process that strengthens the subaltern paradigm conceptualizes them as active decoders who do not people’s ability to identify the problems in their everyday necessarily accept positions offered by media texts. In line life, as well as their capacity to act collectively and individu- with cultural studies and reception theory, the social change ally on their problems as empowered citizens (see Tufte, paradigm acknowledges subaltern audiences’ ability to nego- 2001). tiate oppositional readings from media texts using their cul- It is also important to note that the social change paradigm tural capital. Media texts are seen as constantly mediating is critical of the pedagogic approach that informs the mod- culture, as well as being mediated by culture as lived experi- ernization paradigm. The banking approach that underpins ence (see Tomilson, 1991, p. 61). modernization has been widely criticized for promoting a The social change paradigm also differs markedly with dehumanizing, ineffective, and retrogressive rote pedagogy modernization in the way it conceptualizes and engages with which views subaltern people as “empty vessels” (Singhal, subaltern people’s culture. Instead of seeing subaltern peo- 2004). This banking concept of education has also been criti- ple’s culture as backward and an impediment to development, cized for treating subaltern audiences as objects while also their culture is viewed as central to the development commu- ignoring the complex and process orientation of education. nication process. Furthermore, subaltern peoples culture is no Singhal (2004) avers that such an approach to education fails longer seen as a static object that can be easily captured by to empower and conscientize marginalized people to con- outside development experts, but a complex web of meanings front and problematize their developmental problems. The in flux that interact with structural processes (Dutta, 2007). pedagogic approach that informs the social change paradigm Unlike other development paradigms which jettison subaltern is drawn from Paulo Freire’s (1970) ideas of a liberatory communities’ cultures or merely co-opt them into develop- pedagogy. Unlike the banking concept which views educa- ment communication interventions, the social change para- tion as a process of depositing information on empty digm engages with and works within subaltern people’s Makwambeni and Salawu 5 culture to identify development problems and solutions change, communication, audiences, education, and culture (Dutta, 2007). The development paradigm is premised on the that underpin Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy. understanding that human experience is only meaningful Given the FSA’s propensity to collect a huge corpus of when it finds expression in the richness of the context and data, the challenges in organizing, collating, and synthesiz- culture in which it is experienced (Dutta-Bergman, 2005). ing the data into a meaningful and coherent whole were over- come by focusing the synthesis to the study objectives. This helped the researchers to avoid the temptation to incorporate Method just about any evidence. The FCA proved to be a very useful This study employed a Focused Synthesis Approach (FCA) unobstructive research technique that enabled the study to and qualitative content analysis to understand the conceptual- investigate the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha, ization and design of Tsha Tsha. The FCA is a data inclusive and the television drama’s underpinning notions of develop- qualitative research technique that uses existing information ment, change, communication, audiences, education, and obtained from a variety of sources to understand a particular culture without the subjects being aware that they were under phenomenon (Majchrzak, 1984). In this study, the FCA was observation, a potential key source of error and bias in quali- used to collect, integrate, and synthesize a huge corpus of tative research. The findings of this study were validated at visual and written documents that enabled the researchers to the inaugural conference on E-E in South Africa held at understand the notions of development, change, communica- Rhodes University in 2015 where leading E-E producers and tion, audiences, education, and culture that underpin Tsha technical experts in South Africa participated. Tsha’s E-E strategy. The visual and written documents used in the study were selected insofar as they contributed to the Results and Discussion overall synthesis (see Majchrzak, 1984, p. 59). After collecting visual and written data from a variety of This section of the article engages with the notions of devel- sources using the FCA, the first stage of the analysis con- opment, audiences, communication, education, and change sisted of a preliminary qualitative content analysis of the that inform Tsha Tsha’s cultural approach. It assesses whether television drama serial (visual data). This phase was meant to the conceptualization and design of Tsha Tsha reflects the help the researchers to familiarize themselves with the televi- existence of dialogue between programmatic experience and sion drama serial’s plot, narrative structure, and E-E content contemporary scholarship in development communication as recommended by Neuman (1997). This stage was fol- and E-E. The data gleaned using the FCA show that Tsha lowed by a more rigorous theoretically guided qualitative Tsha’s producers consciously sought to break away from the content analysis of the television serial. The aim of this anal- dominant paradigm in E-E by premising the television drama ysis was to help the researchers to understand the structuring on Paulo Freire’s ideas on a dialogical pedagogy and Boal’s role of the television drama using the E-E strategy as well as concepts on liberatory theater (see Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). to bring up the manifest and latent theoretical underpinnings The adoption of Boal and Freire’s ideas as key elements of of Tsha Tsha (see Fairclough, 1995). The analysis of the tele- Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy is consistent with efforts being vision serial was guided by the E-E for social change para- made by communication practitioners and scholars to over- digm and its attendant underpinning notions of development, come the limitations of modernization by engaging with change, communication, audiences, education, and culture. post-colonial critiques of development (Melkote & Steeves, The third stage of the analysis consisted of a qualitative 2001). Tufte (2001) contends that the articulation of Freire content analysis of the wide corpus of written documents and Boal’s post-colonial perspectives into development com- gathered using the FCA. These documents were viewed liter- munication and E-E practice has the capacity to influence the ally as data and as a way of integrating evidence (Steyn & conceptualization and design of E-E interventions. Nunes, 2001, p. 39). The following key documents inter alia were analyzed and integrated for evidence: primary and sec- Tsha Tsha’s Conceptualization of Development ondary official and private documents and reports that were published by the CADRE; Curious pictures and SABC edu- Development communication interventions in the moderniza- cation collaboratively or individually; technical partners such tion paradigm of development conceptualize development as as Johns Hopkins Health and Education, South Africa; indi- an externally driven process through which underdeveloped vidual researchers and independent researchers as well as countries catch up with the industrialized globalized North other documents discovered serendipitously in the course of through replication of Western political, economic, and cul- the study. A theoretically guided qualitative content analysis tural systems (Inkeles & Smith, 1974). This conceptualization was used to analyze and unitize the diverse and data collected of development ignores the specificities, context, knowledge, using the FCA to understand the underlying themes and and culture of developing communities (Burger, 2015). In meanings emerging from the content. This process enabled contrast to modernization, contemporary scholarship in the researchers to understand the conceptualization and development communication conceptualizes development as design of Tsha Tsha as well as the notions of development, an endogenous, multidimensional, and participatory process 6 SAGE Open that enhances human potential and improves people’s lives Black South African communities. The E-E content of the (Melkote & Steeves, 2001). Development from this perspec- television drama shows close engagement with a wide range tive emphasizes basic human rights, local knowledge, and of social and structural issues that include gender inequality, cultural identity and not merely economic progress. gender stereotypes, power relations, poverty, social support Development is seen as resulting from structural changes in for disclosure, stigma, as well as sexual rights. Tsha Tsha social relations and power structure in society (Servaes, promotes social change through role models like Andile, 1999). Boniswa, and Sis Wawi. For example, Andile confronts An appraisal of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy shows that the patriarchal values assigned to men by his community by tak- intervention’s conceptualization of development is largely ing up traditional feminine roles such as washing, cleaning, informed by contemporary scholarship on development and and looking after children. Likewise, he also confronts gen- development communication that emphasizes basic human der inequality in his community by speaking out on HIV and rights, local knowledge, and culture. This is evident in the AIDS issues in a society that does not allow women to voice television serial whose story line challenges unequal power their views on issues such as sexuality. The expansion of the relations that perpetuate unhealthy behaviors that drive HIV locus of change in Tsha Tsha to include social and structural and AIDS in subaltern Black South African communities. issues that drive unhealthy behavior in South Africa is con- The key social and structural issues that impinge develop- sistent with the E-E for social change paradigm. ment that are identified in program documents and engaged An analysis of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy further shows that within the television drama include unequal gender relations besides focusing on social and structural factors as the locus between men and women, marginalization of the sexual of change, Tsha Tsha also identified individual attitudes and rights of gay and lesbian people, and poverty. These social behavior as key loci of change. The television drama seeks to and structural issues are identified and harnessed into the change individual behavior and attitudes on issues such as television drama using the cultural approach. This enables condom use, abstinence, and voluntary counseling and test- the television drama to harness the specificities, context, ing. Although the focus on individual behavior as a locus of knowledge, and culture of subaltern communities into the change is a relic of modernization, contemporary literature television drama serial. on social change posits that combining social change and Although the television drama Tsha Tsha seeks to enhance individual behavior change helps interventions to bridge the and improve people’s lives through social change, and dichotomy between development and E-E paradigms. This engages with local knowledge and culture, the evidence col- view is further supported by Tufte (2005) who argues that lected using the FCA shows that the intervention does not although E-E interventions in the social change paradigm emanate from inside the communities it engages with. need to shift their locus of change from individual behavior Rather, in line with externally initiated development inter- to social and structural change, individual behavioral change ventions in the modernization paradigm, the television drama remains a key component of E-E interventions. In Tsha is initiated by CADRE and receives technical support from Tsha’s case, individual behavior change is articulated to the Johns Hopkins University Health Communication broader social and structural change agendas underpinning Program (see Hajiyiannis, 2007) who are external to target the television drama. In this light, what appears to separate communities. It is therefore arguable that although Tsha Tsha Tsha’s articulation of individual behavior change from Tsha’s conceptualization of development appears to be con- the dominant practice in E-E is the decision to enlist indi- sistent with most key aspects of the E-E for social change viduals as advocates of change at the wider community level. paradigm, the fact that the intervention is exogenously initi- The dual focus on individual change and social and structural ated and driven undermines its authenticity (see McKee, change used in Tsha Tsha is further rationalized by the Becker-Benton, & Bockh, 2014). Exogenously driven inter- UNAIDS’s (1999) Communication Framework for HIV/ ventions have been criticized for alienating target communi- AIDS (p. 30): ties and are considered to have less chances of bringing about . . . the individual is a product of the context, and for HIV/AIDS new understandings and practices (Burger, 2015). communications strategy to have a meaningful effect, intervention programs should begin with one or a combination of these domains. Thus individuals should still be targeted, but Locating the Development Problem and Locus of only in the context of their interaction within a domain or a Change in Tsha Tsha combination of domains. The evidence gleaned from the qualitative content analysis of the television drama Tsha Tsha and the program docu- ments shows that the locus of change in the development Assessing Tsha Tsha’s Pedagogic Approach communication intervention is not just the individual but includes social and structural factors that influence individ- The evidence gleaned from the FCA shows that Tsha Tsha’s ual behavior on issues around HIV and AIDS in subaltern producers adopted an approach to education and learning Makwambeni and Salawu 7 that is informed by Freire’s ideas on a dialogic pedagogy. similar to their own. Youth audiences are presented with an From the very onset, the producers sought to avoid a rote opportunity to learn and problematize their challenges as the learning characteristic of didactic pedagogies. Hajiyiannis fictional characters in the television drama grapple, learn, cited in Ogenga (2006) states that Tsha Tsha’s producers and reflect on their own limiting situations (Kelly et al., chose the concept of lessons as opposed to messages because 2004, p. 8). lessons include and acknowledge processes and complexi- Another key element of Tsha Tsha’s pedagogic approach ties. This view chimes with Tufte’s (2005) argument that les- that emerged from the FCA is Freire’s (1968) concept of con- sons are preferable to didactic messaging which views scientization. Tsha Tsha’s producers conceptualize conscien- learning as linear and whose primary objective is to dissemi- tization as a process that raises people’s ability to identify nate information which results in individual behavioral their problems in everyday life and to then act upon them change. Post-colonial scholars like Paulo Freire have criti- individually and collectively to improve their lives. The find- cized didactic messaging because it promotes rote learning, ings of the study show that conscientization is articulated into does not acknowledge the agency of the subaltern, and down Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy to enable youth audiences to identify plays the complexity and process nature of education and and engage with characters who navigate limit situations sim- learning (Akar, 2016; Singhal, 2004). Conversely, a lesson- ilar to their own so that they, as knowing subjects in the pro- based approach acknowledges the complex nature of educa- cess, achieve a deep sense of awareness of the sociocultural tion and subaltern people and views education as a dialogic, and economic realities that shape their own lives. According empowering, and mutually transformative process. to program documents, conscientization is meant to provide a Informed by Paulo Freire’s ideas on a liberatory peda- transformative pedagogic experience that heightens youth gogy, Tsha Tsha’s producers adopted what they describe as a audiences’ capacity to change their reality. Evidence of con- complex, process-oriented pedagogic approach aimed at scientization in Tsha Tsha is manifest through the develop- problem solving (Parker, Ntlabati, & Hajiyiannis, 2005). The ment of realistic, dynamic, and fallible characters (like Andile lesson-based approach is not underpinned by a predeter- and Boniswa) who negotiate complex, limit, and transforma- mined set of indiscrete educational messages or themes. tive situations characterized by poverty and discrimination. Rather, it is premised on key lessons built around covert and This process provokes subaltern audiences to critically reflect educational themes. The covert themes and lessons that the on their own situation thereby raising conscientization and study noted in the television drama include the plight of the possibility of action (see Freire, 1998). The television young people who are burdened with caring for sick and drama is built around realistic, dynamic, and fallible role dying parents, the financial and social risks associated with models like DJ, Boniswa, Andile, Viwe, and Mimi who con- caring for sick parents, the challenges associated with con- stantly model positive and negative behavior within an fronting the possibility of being HIV positive, disclosure and impoverished community. These main characters constantly the personal social challenges associated with it, dealing agonize over their situations (e.g., being HIV positive, les- with HIV stigma as a community, drinking and alcoholism bian, or orphaned) in ways that provoke audiences to be and the risks associated with it, and the challenges associated drawn to think about their similar challenges and situations. with discussing openly about HIV and AIDS (Hajiyiannis & The articulation of conscientization into Tsha Tsha’s ped- Jugbaran, 2005). agogic approach is intended to empower subaltern youth The lesson-based approach employed in Tsha Tsha’s E-E audiences to become active participants in examining their strategy indicates a significant departure from the dominant own constraining environment. Conscientization is viewed practice in E-E where themes are largely overt. Tsha Tsha’s as capable of empowering audiences to question the social themes and lessons are subtly embedded into the television structures that promote unhealthy behaviors in their own drama. The lessons emerge discretely as the plot unravels communities. In this light, the use of a lesson-based approach and the principal characters interact with each other. and conscientization as key elements of Tsha Tsha’s peda- According to Kelly, Parker, Hajiyiannis, and Ntlabati (2004, gogic approach is largely consistent with the tenets of the p. 8), the integration of covert themes into the television E-E for social change paradigm. The paradigm seeks to pro- drama allows the producers to capacitate audiences to learn mote a dialogic pedagogy that emancipates subaltern people about themselves through others rather than through a didac- from marginality by affording them a platform to collectively tic process. Further evidence of the lesson-based approach in and individually pose problems and creatively reflect on the Tsha Tsha is reflected through the covert theme that focuses existing structures of marginalization (Tufte, 2001). on the complex choices that young people encounter when choosing and shaping their relationships in marginal con- texts. Instead of presenting the theme overtly, the television Tsha Tsha’s Engagement With the Subaltern’s drama depicts young people, such as DJ, negotiating the Culture challenges surrounding their relationships in a rural setting. Tsha Tsha’s engagement with subaltern people’s culture and In doing so, the television drama presents its subaltern youth their lived experiences in the conceptualization and design audiences with covert learning opportunities on challenges 8 SAGE Open process is guided by the intervention’s cultural approach. institutions such as the police, health staff, and educators. The broad aim of Tsha Tsha’s cultural approach is to develop Anthropological and ethnographic participatory methods, a television drama whose narrative and characters are steeped such as the provision of disposable cameras to young people in the sociocultural and political context of its audiences’ to document important incidents and experiences in their quotidian lives (see Tufte, 2005). Results from the FCA lives, were also used by the producers to gain a nuanced shows that formative research is the primary tool used by understanding of the culture of the target audience (Kelly Tsha Tsha’s producers to engage with the culture and context et al., 2004). Such practices were critical in providing voice of its subaltern youth audiences. From the initial stages, for- and visibility to subaltern communities and their culture at mative research was identified as a critical tool for enabling the critical stage of searching for social change objectives in the producers to design an E-E intervention that is rooted in the development of the E-E intervention (see Tufte, 2005). the culture, characteristics, needs, and preferences of its tar- Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the subaltern audience and get audience. The centrality of culture in the intervention is their culture and context during formative evaluation also enunciated by Jugbaran cited in Ogenga (2006) and Ntlabati informed the script development phase. During this phase, and Kelly (2004): the writers adapted the script to the culture, needs, and lan- guage of its target audience. The data gleaned from forma- tive evaluation helped the producers and scriptwriters to Formative evaluation is the basic key in the entire conceptualisation create realistic characters whose depth, challenges, and of Tsha Tsha . . . it is our starting point and it is even our end point. contradictions resonated with audiences’ quotidian experi- (It is used) . . . to identify issues and specific cultural practices ences. To align the script to the experiences and culture of impacting on HIV and AIDS in the community; developing and understanding the characters and the dynamics of the relationships subaltern audiences, 50 focus group discussions and inter- between them; testing the plausibility of drama events against the views were conducted with young people familiar with the reference point of life in a small town in the Eastern Cape. context (Pedi in the Eastern Cape) that the producers sought to portray in the television drama (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). The above quotation clearly shows that the producers con- The data from the focus group discussions and in-depth sciously sought to immerse the conceptualization and design interviews were then used to develop the names of main of Tsha Tsha in its youth audience’s culture and context. In characters, develop main characters and the dynamics of line with its cultural approach, Tsha Tsha’s producers the relationships between them, verify details of cultural engaged and interacted with subaltern youth audiences to practices, explore the plausibility of dramatic events against understand their culture and to identify key development the life in a small rural town, and assess the appeal of the issues affecting them. The engagement with youth audi- script to the target audience (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). ences’ culture was achieved through a mutually transforma- The evidence of the articulation of the local culture and tive dialogue between outside technical experts and producers contextual issues and needs in the television drama can be and subaltern communities (Ntlabati & Kelly, 2004). The seen throughout the television drama serial. One glaring purposive articulation of formative evaluation into the inter- example is the culture of ballroom dancing prevalent in the vention’s cultural approach is a reflection of the producers’ Eastern Cape that was central to the initial episodes. The commitment to understanding issues surrounding HIV and television drama also makes use of Xhosa, the dominant AIDS from within the specific culture and contexts in which language of the Eastern Cape province, where the televi- they arise with the critical input of the subaltern actors (see sion drama is set. Furthermore, the names of the main Airhihenbuwa, 1999; Dutta, 2015). characters in the television drama, Andile, Viwe, and Evidence of Tsha Tsha’s engagement with its audience’s Boniswa, are common among Xhosa-speaking Black culture is reflected throughout the conceptualization and South African youths in the Eastern Cape. At a thematic design process. Formative research was conducted in Pedi, level, the key issues that constitute the locus of change in a rural town in the Eastern Cape. This was done to explore Tsha Tsha (poverty, idleness in rural settings, sexual rights, the town and familiarize with the primary target audience’s gender inequality, and alcoholism) were identified through culture, issues, and places important in their lives (Kelly formative evaluation in subaltern communities in the et al., 2004). This process was meant to enable the producers Eastern Cape. to understand the dynamics, culture, and lived experiences The script development process was followed by a script of subaltern youth audiences. This process was followed by review process consisting of research sessions and work- in-depth interviews, observations, document analysis, and shops with a sample of the target audience. Its purpose was focus group discussions which gave the producers a holistic to evaluate whether the characters developed were authen- understanding of the context, culture, and practices of sub- tic, typical, and resonated with the audiences’ context and altern communities. The data about the audiences’ culture culture. This stage helped the producers to assess whether and contextual issues were gathered from a broad range of the television drama was credible among the target audi- stakeholders in the community that include civic organiza- ence (Kelly et al., 2004, p. 12). The script review process tions, community-based organizations, and governmental reflects the producers’ intention to develop a fictional Makwambeni and Salawu 9 product whose characters and material world are steeped in its audience research during formative evaluation. The adop- the audiences’ quotidian culture and context (Ntlabati & tion of qualitative audience research methods constitutes a Kelly, 2004). The engagement with subaltern audiences’ significant decoupling from the predominantly quantitative culture largely resembles the culture-centered and partici- audience research methods that inform E-E audience evalua- patory development of telenovelas in Latin America, which tion in the dominant paradigm of E-E. The turn to ethno- make visible audiences’ values, culture, and problems in graphic qualitative audience research during formative the story line (Lins da Silva, 1985, p. 114). evaluation epitomizes the emergence of a new approach to Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the subaltern audiences’ understanding audiences as well as E-E texts. Qualitative culture largely transcends the culture co-option approach audience research views E-E texts less as determinant and which informs E-E interventions in the modernization para- isolated phenomenon, and audiences and meaning making as digm. The evidence from the study shows that the producers sophisticated, complex, and culturally specific (see purposively adopted a cultural approach anchored in the spe- Livingstone, 2015; Morley, 1992). cific local context and culture in which subaltern Black By acknowledging the polysemic nature of the E-E text, South African youths experience their everyday lives. This Tsha Tsha’s producers simultaneously recognize the relative process significantly shifts discursive control of the televi- power of audiences. Tsha Tsha’s conceptualization of audi- sion drama, representations, identification of issues, and ences is also reflected through the lesson-based pedagogic solutions from the hands of the “experts” to subaltern com- approach. The use of the lesson-based approach in the televi- munity members. It is also evident through Tsha Tsha’s sion drama shows that the producers do not necessarily view engagement with subaltern youth audiences’ culture that the audiences or learners as empty receptacles but active audi- producers do not view local cultures as an impediment to ences with agency. The analysis of Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy development, but a critical component to work with (Dutta, indicates that the appropriation of cultural studies and recep- 2007). Tsha Tsha’s engagement with subaltern’s culture is tion theory during the conceptualization and design process largely consistent with the core values of the social change was a deliberate effort to align the intervention with the paradigm which views human experience as only meaning- social change paradigm which views audiences as active and ful when it finds expression in the richness of culture and media texts as polysemic. context in which it is experienced (Dutta-Bergman, 2004). However, it is arguable that the television drama still works with the subaltern’s culture, rather than within it in ways that Assessing Tsha Tsha’s Conceptualization of go beyond creating a sense of cultural connection to foster- Communication ing belonging and citizenry (see Tufte, 2005). The data collected using the FCA show that the primary aim of Tsha Tsha’s communication strategy is to engage subaltern The Conceptualization of Audiences in Tsha Tsha youth audiences in a dialogue whose end product is to pro- pose collective solutions to health problems afflicting devel- Tsha Tsha’s program documents show that the television oping communities. Pursuant to this, Tsha Tsha’s drama’s conceptualization of audiences is informed by cul- communication strategy is premised on a multimedia tural studies and reception theory. Cultural studies and recep- approach that is aimed at providing alternative public spheres tion theory reject the dominant assumption in E-E that that reinforce social dialogue, advocacy, mobilization, and assumes that audiences are passive. Cultural studies and participation around the television series (Ntlabati & Kelly, reception theory view audiences as active decoders of media 2004). According to Hajiyiannis and Jugbaran (2005), alter- messages who do not necessarily accept the positions offered native dialogic platforms enable Tsha Tsha’s audiences to by the text (see Livingstone, 2015). This conceptualization share information, integrate life experiences, and learn from of audiences is built into the E-E intervention through con- each other in ways that are untenable when using traditional tinuous formative research which enabled the producers to mass media platforms alone. glean insights into the multilayered meanings (intended and Program documents show that dialogue around the main- unintended) proposed by the text as well as the potential dif- stream television broadcasts is complemented by video and ferential readings negotiated by situated youth audiences DVD copies, a 20-min promotion tape, and a participation from the television drama (Parker et al., 2005). Evidence of orientated facilitator’s guide. Copies of the videos of the tele- this nuanced conception of audience is found in the pretest- vision series and the facilitation guide, which is premised on ing phase where audiences’ differential readings of the tele- a deep questioning approach, are shared with key stakehold- vision drama are invited. The opposition reading of the ers involved in HIV and AIDS prevention, support, and care depiction of people living with AIDS in the television drama in South Africa. Key stakeholders such as the Correctional prompted the producers to revise the depictions. Services department, community-based organizations, gov- Tsha Tsha’s conceptualization of audiences from a cul- ernment departments, and other groups that support HIV and tural studies and reception perspective is also evident in the AIDS education and training in South Africa have utilized methodological and epistemological foundation informing 10 SAGE Open the aforementioned resources (Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, position and alternatives, a process which ultimately leads to 2005). According to Singhal and Rogers (2001), the use of a problem solving (Tufte, 2005). multimedia strategy and supplementary campaigns as part of an E-E campaign, as is the case with Tsha Tsha, is consistent Conclusion and Implications with participatory development communication campaigns This article sought to assess the conceptualization and design and results in more effects on audiences compared with dif- of the E-E television drama Tsha Tsha in South Africa to fusionist interventions. understand whether the intervention has jettisoned modern- Although a growing number of contemporary develop- ization and its diffusionist tenets and embraced contempo- ment communication interventions are adopting multimedia rary shifts in E-E and development communication strategies as key elements of their communication approach, scholarship. Using the social change paradigm as its over- Tsha Tsha’s case is interesting in that the producers articu- arching framework, the article assessed the notions of devel- lated the intervention’s multimedia strategy to Paulo Freire’s opment, change, communication, audiences, education, and (1998) ideas on liberatory pedagogy and Boal’s (1979) ideas culture that underpin Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy during the on participatory theater (Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, 2005). To conceptualization and design process. achieve this, the multimedia strategy consisted of sequential The evidence gleaned from the study shows significant complementary dimensions: viewing of videos or DVDs, evidence of ongoing dialogue between Tsha Tsha’s program discussion groups, role-play, and forum theater. The viewing practice and theoretical advances in E-E and development and discussion of issues in the television series is guided by communication scholarship. Tsha Tsha’s epistemological and a facilitator’s guide which was developed by the producers to methodological foundation as reflected in the conceptualiza- promote reflection, problematization, and debate on HIV and tion and design process significantly remoors the interven- AIDS–related issues (see Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, 2005). tions undergirding notions of development, communication, Freire’s dialogic pedagogy encourages audiences as learners audiences, change, culture, and education in line with critical to engage with the E-E content and think critically about the post-colonial insights on development. different pathways to solutions rather than simply transmit- Evidence of significant efforts to bridge theory and ting information to audiences. practice is reflected as follows: First, the intervention’s Tsha Tsha’s multimedia strategy also harnessed Boal’s locus of change is expanded beyond the individual to (1979) ideas on liberatory theater. Tsha Tsha uses forum the- include social and structural factors that perpetuate ater to transforming audience members from spectators to unhealthy behaviors that expose subaltern Black South spec-actors with roles and situations to act. Acting and role- African youths to HIV and AIDS. Second, Tsha Tsha’s play enable subaltern audiences to situate and apply charac- approach to education is articulated to a Freirean dialogic ters’ experiences and challenges to their own lived pedagogy, which seeks to conscientize audiences through a experiences. Forum theater is employed in the E-E strategy process of problem identification, reflection, and solution as an extension of role-play where audience members are posing. Third, Tsha Tsha’s E-E strategy reflects producers’ allowed to intervene in the action if they do not agree with conceptualization of audiences as active rather than pas- an issue or with a character. By so doing, forum theater is sive. This conception of audiences is supported by elabo- used within Tsha Tsha’s communication and pedagogic rate efforts to provide voice to subaltern audiences whose approach as a flexible theatrical tool to involve and engage views are usually erased from E-E epistemic structures. subaltern youths in ways that enable them to take up differ- Fourth, Tsha Tsha premises its communication approach ent roles and to also pose solutions to problems afflicting on dialogue and participation as opposed to diffusionist them and their community (see Hajiyiannis & Jugbaran, and transmission approaches that inform the moderniza- 2005). tion paradigm. Fifth, Tsha Tsha’s engagement with the sub- On the whole, Tsha Tsha’s Freire and Boal informed mul- altern’s culture shows the producers’ view of subaltern timedia and communication approach signifies a shift from people’s culture as central to the development process diffusionist mass media–based E-E initiatives that inform the rather than an impediment. modernization paradigm. The articulation of a television- This study has shown that theory and practice are com- based intervention to participatory communication tools plimentary in development communication. Consequently, such as forum theater and role-play create a dialogic com- bridging theory and practice should be viewed as a constant munication process capable of empowering subaltern youth preoccupation among E-E scholars and practitioners if inter- audiences (Singhal, 2004). Although the primary communi- ventions are to reach their full potential. 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Journal

SAGE OpenSAGE

Published: Feb 23, 2018

Keywords: entertainment–education; development; communication; social Sciences; social change; HIV and AIDS; subaltern

References