The 9th of December the UN celebrates the anti-corruption day. It is clear that this is a global issue and a cross-cutting one. It concerns virtually all countries, even if in different degrees, and it can be found in all sectors of the development arena; e.g. health, rural development, agriculture, sanitation and many more. Corruption is not an issue that concerns only the rich; on the contrary, the poor are those who suffer the most from corrupt practices, in a number of ways. First of all, corruption subtracts money from the tax revenues which are the main source of social programmes and services. Secondly, the money the rich pay to corrupt officials are usually passed back as increased costs to consumers, and the poorest ones are the ones that will pay the higher price. Finally, corruption affects not only multimillion deals but spread throughout the social realm like a cancer and I know of bribes asked (and paid) to obtain jobs with a salary of forty dollars a month.
Using large international events to get attention for a development objective is a pretty good idea. Events like the Soccer World Cup are so called media events - events that capture the attention of a large audience, that break our routines, and unify a large scattered audience. Whatever team you were cheering for, you weren't the only one cheering for it, and didn't you feel like your team's friends were also your friends? This kind of mood - attention and a feeling of community - provides a great environment for campaigns that want to raise awareness about certain issues or that want to change norms and behaviors.
- South Africa
- Cote d'Ivoire
- World Cup 2010
- Public Viewing in Africa
- Media Events
- Japan International Cooperation Agency
- Give AIDS the Red Card
- Elihu Katz
- development communication
- Development Campaigns
- Daniel Dayan
- communication for development
- Communication Campaigns
- Brothers for Life
- behavior change
- Awareness Raising
My colleague Shanthi Kalathil is working on a "Toolkit for Independent Media Development," which we have mentioned several times on this blog. One of the points she makes right at the beginning is that donors need to distinguish between media development and communication for development. Communication for development means the use of communication tools - usually in the form of awareness raising campaigns - to achieve development goals. Media development, on the other hand, is about supporting an independent media sector in and of itself, it's a structural approach.
In the general slander of public opinion and public opinion polls ("leaders who pander to public opinion lose respect", see John Kay in the Financial Times), people often mistake attitudes for opinion. It's a technical detail, but from a governance reform view it makes all the difference. Attitudes are predispositions. Opinions are expressions, speech acts. Opinions precede and determine behavior. And that, after all, is where we aim in working toward governance reform.
In the last posting I discussed two key elements making change difficult to achieve; namely people’s inherent resistance to change and the tendency to design and deliver messages appealing to the rational side of people. This last point is often a cause of limited success in promoting change because it neglects to consider that human behaviours are not always guided by rational considerations, at least in a strict scientific sense (see the still rather strong diffusion of smoking despite that its harm is almost universally acknowledged).Taking into account stakeholders’ perceptions, satisfaction, and cultural models can often be more effective than solutions-based innovations, especially if suggested by external agents of change.
Why is change so difficult to achieve, even when it seems to be the best solution for a certain problem? We could start by recalling human nature that is usually risk adverse. Probably this derives from our genetic memory going back thousands of years when deviating from a known routine and venturing into the unknown could jeopardize one’s life. Currently, we still tend to be more comfortable with what we know rather than entering uncharted waters. Hesitation and uncertainty that typically accompany changes are also often coupled with a degree of “mental laziness”, as it always takes an extra effort to change old habits in favor of new ones.
As many readers will know, CommGAP has developed a couple of training courses. We now run these courses in partnership with the World Bank Institute. A few years ago, we began to commission technical briefs on various aspects of communication and governance for use in the training courses. They are quick, hopefully accessible introductions to various key topics in communication, especially political communication. Each brief was written by an expert in the field although we have not attached the names of the writers, these being our corporate products. We have decided to share these briefs more broadly. Please feel free use them as appropriate. We would appreciate comments on them as well.
"There are three complementary models of behavior change implicit in many public health communication campaigns. The individual effects model focuses on individuals as they improve their knowledge and attitudes and assumes that individual exposure to messages affects individual behavior. The social diffusion model focuses on the process of change among social groups. The institutional diffusion model focuses on the change in elite opinion, which is translated into institutional behavior, including policy changes, which in turn affect individual behavior. The models contrast the direct effects of seeing mass media materials... with the indirect effects of the social diffusion model, (wherein) discussion within a social network is stimulated by PSAs (public service announcements) or media coverage of an issue; that discussion may produce changed social norms about appropriate behavior, and affect the likelihood that each member of the social network will adopt the new behavior. In the institutional diffusion model, media coverage of an issue may operate through either one or both of two mechanisms. Media coverage may affect public norms that affect institutional behavior or policymaker actions, or media coverage may lead policymakers to think an issue an issue is important and requires action, regardless of whether public norms have actually changed."
- Prof. Robert C. Hornik (2002, pp.14-15)
Public Health Communication: Evidence for Behavior Change
Many (some say all) organisational, institutional or government communications efforts are about influence and/or behaviour change. A point often missed is that communications cannot be a bolt-on activity that happens in isolation from other actions. If you are generally “making friends” with your audience, it will be a lot easier to influence them – as J.S.Knox writes “You cannot antagonize and influence at the same time.” Time and time again I come across well-educated policy formers, peace builders, and frontline campaigners who are attempting to build a strategy for their work without including an element of strategic communications from the outset. There is a need to grasp that every activity you are engaged in will influence (there is no such thing as “not communicating” – everything sends a message). So, the way the phone is answered, your level of cultural awareness, the tone of an email, the policies you promote, and physical campaigns (e.g. military/peacekeeping/law enforcement activity) will all have an impact on your effectiveness to communicate other messages.
Transparency International’s 2009 Global Corruption Barometer, published last month, details the results of an opinion survey on the public’s perceptions and experiences of corruption and bribery around the world. The report contains many interesting findings, but the ones I found particularly notable were the following: