Communication in Social Development: Issues and Perspectives


Dr. Rajesh Shukla*

Associate Professor of Sociology, Durga College, Raipur (C.G.)




Communication denotes a process that is both interactive and purposeful. The word communication is derived from the Latin “Communis” which means “to make common, to share, to impart, to transmit”. Through communication people control on another’s behavior and unite themselves in groups. Thus communication is a means for breaking down the barriers to human Interaction. It is a means for achieving mutual understanding.


Communication is a fundamental Per-requisite of all living beings. The development of human civilisation is directly dependent upon reflinement and growth of forms mechanisms and quality of the contents of communication sociologically it is possible to construct both processes and structure of culture and society through communicational contents and net works. The categorization of societies and cultures can be adequately undertaken through identification of farms and features of communication.


At the individual level communication is significant instrument of self expression and at group level it provides frame of shared cognitive and cathetic experience the institutional dimensions of communication reveal its divergent media which have significantly influenced the coverage, content and forms of communication in the wake of technological advancement the dimensions of indirect communication, audio-visual communication passive participation as spectators and universalization of information ensued, as a consequence of technological revolution in communication.


The Traditional instrumentalities of communication have been giving way to the new ones and traditional messages are being converged through contemporary and new channels of mass communication.


The quality of two cultures on based on traditional person to person communication and the other based on Technological instrumentalities are basically different. Theoretically communication has raised antological and epistemological questions of meaning of reality and processes of comprenending the reality. Communication encompasses the totality of one’s being cognitive, cathetic and aesthetic, social cultural and transcedental individual, group and collectivity of power and suppression, of creativity and imitation of simplicity and complexity, of formalism and spontaneity, of survival and liberation. It has importance both for continuity and change in society. It significance in the process and programmes of development has been duly recognized. Long ago, meier (1956) suggested that communication involves the following categories (1) Face to face communication as in the family gossiping with neighbours, meeting, seminans and conferences (2) Reading newspaper, magazines, books bill boards, etc. (3) man machine in reading instruments, guages, drials, microscope, etc. (4) Person- person with machine interposed as in telephone, movies, radio, television, etc. and finaly (5) Machine machine as in feedbacks, interlcoks automation, etc.


 Communication and development are the major domains of human endeavour which are intimately linked with each other. Therefore, when we are revising our ideas about development, It is also necessary to think about the appropriate kind of communication. Hence the questions arises what kind of development, and what kind of communication?


Today, all Societies, Particularly democratic ones, affirm the need to promote the social good and happiness of all their members. Development broadly speaking refers to the conscious efforts at fulfilling these objectives two major ideas gained currency in the latter part of the nineteenth century regarding the possible aproaches towards this end. According to Jeremy Bentham, human happiness is advanced by the maximization of utilites, but according to John Stuart mill, It is promoted by the maximization of human capacities the former refers to the manipulation of material forces whereas the latter to the reformation of the individual. However in the era of industrial revolution, It was the idea of Bentham which gained supermacy, leading to the model of development which we call modernization.


Now let us explore the role of communication in this kind of development communication is an essential element in all human activities. The subject matter of sociology namely social relationships is essentially a matter of communication and social structure is both a process and product of communication in Traditional societies, the channels of communication are strictly controlled by the social structure. What is remarkable about communication in recent times is that the means and technology of communication have is that the means and technology of communication have undergone tremendons advancement, so much so, the most advanced phase of civilization today namely the post -Industrial phase, has come to be regarded as the ‘age of communication’ the development of the means of communication however, has been accompanied with its increasing control.


Communication as a concept has to be viewed as a self regulating system despite its equivocal nature. Communication occurs at various levels, besides, at the level of community, complex organization and  nation state in fact, communication as a phenome non is constant and ubiquitous only our under standing of it changes according to the perspective  from which it is viewed. There are four main human communication perspectives mechanistic, socio psychological, interactional system or pragmatic. Besides three main types of communication intra personal, interpersonal and impersonal (mass) have been extensively employed by human beings to build up trust, confidence consensus, integration, inter dependence, Co-operation, conflict and social cohesion for their development (fisher, 1978)


Communication sets in a process of development. Communication also acts as a complement of Technological change in fact, communication mediates in the production, consumption and  accumulation of goods and serices besides promoting political, social, Psychological and cultural processes of development.


Communication is essential and primary to the decision- making process, a key factor at all levels of development planning. Communications, whether through mass media or through interpersonal channels, affect the behaviour patters of persons and groups either directly or indirectly. They get oriented from less to more appropriate actions necessary for expansion of their resources or to have better control of their environment. In short, communication effect development initiatives and their accomplishments. There have been several research traditions in the arena of development communication for example, one view is that communication reflects the conditions of society and therefore, cannot shape them, however this is not acceptable to others who argue that communication stimulates development of the society effects of communications have been observed to be both inhabitive and persuasive.


Mass media are considered to be a communication instruments that expand frontiers of knowledge while interpersonal communication is a social behaviour, acting as a micro cosmic foundation for consensus, necessary for the existence of the society. Research evidence suggests that under certain conditions of control, mass and interpersonal communication especially the former can be manipulated to achieve conformity to the set norms. Power elites have also been observed to control the masses by controlling the access to mass media, mass media are observed to fulfil the main needs of an individual realizing escape from his disappointed aspirations. The elites, by manipulating mass media, indirectly regulate the behaviour of the masses to their advantage.


Socio - Psychological researches in communication have suggested that there are personality correlates of persuasibility besides the factor of group membership, fear appeals and order of arguments. Further the research lead is that in communication now the tendency is to shift emphasis from stimulus to the response side, from environmental control to stability of cognitive system, from attitudes change to attitudinal stability and from information receiving to information seeking.


The role that communication particularly from the Psychological perspective, can play deserves appraisal as well as redifinition. Some of the recent publications by  Pandy (1990), Sinha (1990), Shukla (1987), Roy and Shrivastava (1986), Sinha (1983), Mohan (1986 & 1988) and Roloff (1981) indicate a possible role communication can play in development.Communication, Psychologically, is regarded a phenomenon, process as well as an outcome in social exchange and interaction. Since perception, motivation and learning are the founding features of Psychological behaviour; Social development has to be brightened by appropriate use of these principles and practices in consonance with the social, economic, political, educational and technological tools. Here, micro or macro studies have to be replaced by developing a joint strategy in which the social problems are understood from different angles and sorted out accordingly. These can be possible if communication is established in the functional as well as the structural roles.


Psychologically the effectiveness of communication will depend on (1) Credibility, (2) goal identification, (3) awareness, (4) openness, (5) modifiability, (6) attitude, (7) socionic - ethnil political positioning, (8) alienation, (9) Linking mass communication with personal communication, (10) clarify the purpose of communication  (entertain, inform, reinforce, change, educate confer status, socialize activate, focus attention, narcotize, confuse createties of unity, ethicize denote and create artistic expression) and (11) finally, work for positive endless, systematic and  open channels of communication. This is a serions process and takes time to ultimately become a culture of communication.


In a cross cultural study Lynn (1991) and Mohan (1986) highlighted the new model of economy which emphasizes upon the role of communication diffusion research though carried out, largely in the tradition of rural sociology has made a significant contribution to our understanding of communication and social change, especially in the field of agricultural innovativeness. Rogers suggested a coherent theory on diffusion and adoption of innovations, denoting awareness, interest (knowledge), mental evolution, trial and adoption as major stages in the diffusion and adoption process (in respect of adoption of family planning practice, rogers emphasized the following stages in sequence, knowledge, persuasion decision and confirmation). in truth, both mass media and interpersonal communication are considered an integral part of the diffusion process  (Rogers and Shoemaker, 1971, Rogers, 1973).


Elihu Katz is his epilogue to his edited book ‘mass media and social change’ based on the papers presented at one of the symposium’s of the IX world congress of sociology has remarked that the central issue is whether the media of mass communication should lead or follow, mirror or mould the society. It has always been adebatable question. Communication has both been employed as an instrument of social change as well as a reinforcing force for maintaining the status quo in the society (Katz, 1981).


It could be submitted that correct appraisal of socio Psychological features underlying communication can help in developing appropriate strategies of development. The future progress in social development is intricately related to enhanced deployment of techniques and practices of communication based on positive socio Psychological principles.



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Received on 30.09.2011

Accepted on 04.10.2011

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