USING THE POWER OF MASS ENTERTAINMENT TO PROMOTE CHANGE
Popular entertainment formats (such as TV, radio, and mobile apps) can be used to tackle complex social issues and promote norm and behaviour change, communicating messages to large numbers of people at relatively low cost. ‘Edutainment’ approaches are often based on extensive research and testing to ensure that the format, characters, and content resonate with the audience.
This page gives key resources and selected examples.
We have limited evidence of edutainment’s impact on violence, but several such programmes have:
- Improved knowledge about intimate partner violence
- Shifted attitudes
- Increased help-seeking
- (In some cases) reduced self-reported perpetration or experience of intimate partner violence
Evidence from other public health fields (such as family planning and anti-smoking) shows that mass media and edutainment can change behaviour and shift harmful norms.
“STORIES CAN DRAW AUDIENCES INTO THE CENTRE OF AN ISSUE, MOVE PEOPLE EMOTIONALLY AND CATALYSE DISCUSSION AND DEBATE. MEDIA AND POPULAR CULTURE INFLUENCE US IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. EDUTAINMENT IS A WAY TO HARNESS ITS ENORMOUS POTENTIAL TO INFLUENCE INDIVIDUALS AND SOCIETY IN A POSITIVE WAY.”
Typically drawing on extensive research, edutainment aims to engage audiences through compelling characters and immerse them in situations they can relate to. Educational messages are embedded in the larger narrative.
Edutainment is based on the theory that people learn through observing others’ behaviours. Through a storyline on violence, for example, viewers see the causes and consequences of violence for the characters. This fosters reflection: ‘What would you do in a similar situation?’ Identifying and empathising with characters can increase viewers’ openness to new ideas, norms, and behaviours.
Direct community engagement to complement the television, radio, or online programme is critical. Some interventions add components such as:
- Listener or viewer groups
- Group-based discussions
- Call-in radio shows
- Community mobilisation
Dedicated formats such as these can show how others may be changing their opinions and behaviours.
NOTE: Edutainment is included under both the United Nations framework to reduce violence against women (RESPECT) and the United Nations strategy to reduce violence against children (INSPIRE).