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Occidental College

Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2014

Program Name

India: Sustainable Development and Social Change

Abstract

In a country as diverse and hierarchical as India, certain marginalized populations are bound to be excluded from the mainstream media. In particular, the adivasi and lower caste populations in rural regions receive either no representation or biased coverage. CGNet Swara, a citizen journalism initiative, seeks to remedy these disparities by utilizing cellphone technology to report and distribute news in the Central Gondwana region. Each citizen with a cellphone in his or her hand, regardless of religion, caste, age or literacy level, can disseminate information he or she sees as valuable by leaving a voice recording at a certain number. Each citizen can also receive pertinent news, free of charge, by calling and listening to the postings. This program is proven to promote demonstrable political change, but the effect on communities has yet to be determined. Through both qualitative and quantitative methods, I investigated the usage patterns and social consequences in one specific village that uses CGNet Swara through a survey, interviews, and focus groups. In doing so, I discovered that citizens’ primary motivation for using CGNet was to engage government officials and create tangible solutions. The program impacted the village by making the community stronger and more trusting, as well as empowering women. As a whole, participatory media in rural communities can give citizens more agency and control over their lives.

Disciplines

Asian Studies | Communication Technology and New Media | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Interpersonal and Small Group Communication | Journalism Studies | Mass Communication

 

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