By Ami Mariscal

May 5, 2020

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The story takes place in the Indian village of Lutsaan about one of my favorite topics, entertainment-education. I first learned about the power of entertainment-education and this story in the book Influencer by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Greeny and their team. 

The village of Lutsaan, like much of it’s surrounding places, had a tradition of marrying their daughters off very young – often removing them from school so they could start families. Millions of people placed pressure to continue the tradition despite the fact that the tradition brought pain to many villagers – whose problems were completely undiscussable. 

Storytellers and do-gooders who had seen the benefits of girls getting an education and waiting to marry wanted to bring about change. Mrs. Usha Bhasin, a radio official in the area, understood that verbal persuasion usually leads to resistance. Her and her team decided to create a radio drama that used storytelling to create vicarious experiences for listeners. 

They produced the show Tinka Tinka Sukh, a serial drama containing likable characters who talked about the pros and cons of the tradition in the privacy of their own home – while thousands listened in. In one storyline, a beloved character wasn’t allowed an education and forced to marry young. She died during childbirth. Each episode ended with the words of a respected narrator who asked questions. 

So many people watched the show and lived vicariously through the family that this story finally forced the topic into public discourse. In early 1997 Mrs. Bhasin visited Ohio, USA to share the results of the show with Dr. Arvind Singhal.  She handed him a colorful movie-poster-sized letter with the signatures of 184 residents of the village of Lutsaan. It was a pledge to educate their daughters equally with their sons and no longer allow child marriages.

In short, entertainment-education is a theory for producing media – mainly serial radio or TV shows – that help create positive social change. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard of. I originally heard about it in the book Influencer by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, and a few others. 

Recently, I’ve been reading the book Entertainment-Education and Social Change by the father of entertainment-education – Miguel Sabido and the premiere scholar on the topic, Dr. Arvind Singhal and a few others. 

In Entertainment Education and Social Change, the authors give multiple examples of shows like this all over the world creating dramatic social changes. What strikes me is that these shows are among the most popular wherever they air. One of the processes that goes into making them is audience research. To me it makes so much sense that this type of audience engagement and positive influence results in the most popular and profitable shows. So that’s entertainment-education in a nutshell. 

Recently, I started an online conversation with Dr. Arvind Singhal about his newest research and projects. When I began conversing with Dr. Singhal, I started crying with joy inside because his mission is so aligned with Lift Your World and I look forward to sharing his work such as this TED talk on our platform 🙂 

Dr. Singhal told me that these days he is deeply passionate about the positive deviance approach—finding outlier stories of how people solve problems and then amplifying them through transmedia entertainment. Can you imagine my excitement!? 

At this point, you might be wondering what the heck transmedia entertainment means. So that is the topic of my next article and video. 

References:
Organizing for Social Change: A Dialectic Journey of Theory and Praxis
By Michael J Papa, Arvind Singhal, Wendy H Papa

Influencer (2008, Vital Smarts, LLC, McGraw Hill, NY, NY, Pgs 157 to 158)

Entertainment Education and Social Change,

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