Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research and Practice

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Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research and Practice. Arvind Singhal, Michael J. Cody, Everett M. Rogers, and Miguel Sabido, eds. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004. 480 pp. $99.95 pbk.

The very best teachers and the most effective advertising planners have something in common: Whatever they hope to convey to us, they recognize that we're unlikely to grasp the message unless the way in which the message is presented engages us. In short, with relatively few exceptions, human beings are willing, even eager, to be educated-but that willingness is limited outside, and sometimes inside, the normal educational environment, unless we're simultaneously being entertained. This recognition has made entertainment-education one of the most popular approaches to reaching audiences worldwide with important health and social change messages.

Whatever readers might want to know about entertainment-education as it has been practiced worldwide, they are likely to find at least some discussion of it in Entertainment-Education and Social Change: History, Research and Practice. Edited by scholars who are arguably among the most distinguished entertainment-education researchers and practitioners in the world, the book provides a comprehensive account of the practical and theoretical development of entertainment-education. The book is divided into three sections, each of which covers a different, and quite useful, aspect: History and Theory, Research and Implementation, and Entertainment-Education Interventions and Their Outcomes. Some forty different authors, including both well-known health communications scholars and those more directly involved in health promotion for both governmental agencies and nongovernmental organizations, have contributed to the chapters.

For this volume, entertainment-education is defined broadly, encompassing the use of the technique through media ranging from traditional folk performances, comic books, and radio and television programming to Internet-based materials. In addition, the chapters cover multiple levels of entertainment-education involvement in media production, from materials created expressly for entertainment-education purposes to the work of health promoters lobbying for the inclusion of more responsible health messages in existing media programs, especially television series. This comprehensiveness will make the book useful to a broad range of readers, including those primarily interested in the history of entertainment-education's development worldwide, those more interested in the theoretical aspects of entertainment-education health promotion, and those looking for insights into how to improve the nuts-and-bolts design of entertainment-education interventions.

While this wide-ranging coverage is useful, the editors do not stop with that. Instead, in an "epilogue" section, they attempt to "draw some 'big picture' conclusions about the growing worldwide phenomena of entertainment-education." These conclusions include the recognition that the important entertainment-education concepts had multiple "parents," leading to the development of multiple forms of entertainment-education. …