Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Interest in Mass Media Reports and Orientation to Africa and the USA

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

Interest in Mass Media Reports and Orientation to Africa and the USA

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study used mass communication variables in an attempt to compare Africa and the United States as reference groups in the music culture of Trinidad. Among all subjects, the United States was a stronger reference group (a) as a surrogate for the world, (b) as a surrogate for the Caribbean, (c) in the motivation to secure information about the popularity of the music from the mass media, (d) in the introjection into oneself of the liking others display for the music, and (e) in the projection on to others of the liking one displays for the music. In general, Africa also was stronger as a reference group among People of Indian Descent than among People of African Descent. The results point to the importance of cultural domination and to the need for the study of the history, heritage, and relevance of the World African Community in this cosmopolitan island in the age of "globalization" and "globalism."

The history of theory, policy, and practice in the application of mass communication in development among members of the World African Community (WAC) and other less powerful peoples of today seems to have had three major phases. Since the days after World War 2, one framework that has guided this theory, policy, and practice has seen the communication as a missionary agent. Since the 1960s, another such framework has seen it as a responsive agent. And in recent decades, yet another such framework has seen it as a cultural heritage connector.

The frameworks place much importance on the connection of the beneficiaries of development initiatives to reference groups that they perceive as providers of ideas and other resources that help development, but they differ in the degree to which they give primacy to connection to these groups. The first appears to stress the connection of the beneficiaries to groups in more powerful societies of today that have been their colonial dominators; the second, to stress their connection to groups that provide them with resources and opportunities they need; the third, to stress their connection to groups in the less powerful societies of today that have been their "motherlands." The study on which this paper reports used (mass) communication variables in an attempt to determine the degree to which People of African Descent (PADs) and other groups in a developing country are inclined to connect themselves to one of the more powerful societies and to the African continent that is the "motherland" of the PADs. The writer then anticipates the implications of the findings for the use of both the mass communication and the reactions of these reference others in cultural development initiatives undertaken in the country and in other African-and-other-ethnic-group societies like it.

Theoretical Development

Early in the history of the study of development and the application of mass communication in it, the dominant framework for the application seemed to view the communication as playing a missionary role that included helping the transmission of a certain character (Lerner, 1958), and certain technologies and techniques (Rogers, 1969), from the more powerful (also called the "more developed") to the less powerful (also called the "less developed") societies. The emphasis seems to have been on the use of the communication in the connection of the beneficiaries of development to reference groups that served as sources of ideas and models for action and were located in such more powerful and "more developed" locations as western Europe and North America (see Cambridge, 2002; Melkote, 2002; Shah, 1996). This framework saw the more powerful societies as originators and the less powerful societies as recipients of ideas on development and the application of the communication in it. It also viewed the more powerful as arbiters of ideas that may come from the less powerful on both the development and the application. It seems to suggest the use of the mass communication for the connection of the beneficiaries to the more powerful societies. …

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