NEW METHODS OF CONDUCTING FAMILY LIFE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES JEROO ...
NEW METHODS OF CONDUCTING FAMILY LIFE
JEROO BILLIMORIA, RINKI BHATTACHARYA AND CHHAYA DATAR
The authors explore innovative methods of family life development programmes. They present the social
marketing model and its application for raising public awareness about family dynamics. The role that mass media
have played in conveying stereotype knowledge and attitudes about family life is critically examined and a
constructive use of mass media is suggested for raising public awareness. Finally, the use of group discussions is
demonstrated and the technology of education discussed.
Ms. Jeroo Billimoria is Lecturer, Department of Family and Child Welfare, TISS.
Ms. Rinki Bhattacharya is a free-lance Journalist.
Ms. Chhaya Datar is Reader and Head, Unit for Women's Studies, TISS.
This section briefly outlines the definition of the term social marketing and the social
marketing process, adapted from Kotler and Andreasen (1987). This process has
been described with reference to raising public awareness about issues related to
the girl child.
Sociai behaviour marketing can best be described as 'the design, implementation
and control of programmes designed to ultimately influence individual behaviour in
ways that the marketeer believes are in the individual's or society's interest' (Kotler
and Andreasen, 1987). To achieve this goal the social marketeer requires a deep
understanding of the needs, perceptions, preferences, reference groups and
behavioural patterns of the target audience and the tailoring of messages, media
costs and facilities, to make changing easy. He/she should be aware of the
conceptual framework of social marketing, and its limitations.
The crucial features that distinguish social behaviour marketing from product and
service marketing are that in the latter there are two types:
(1) money is paid by the consumer for something he/she can personally consume
(2) the marketing entity has a major interest in maximising its own returns.
Social behaviour marketing, by definition, indicates that the marketeer is primarily
46 Jeroo Billimoria et al.
motivated by a desire to benefit others. This type of marketing is, therefore, 'most
customer centered'. Paradoxically, the recipients often feel it is less customer
centered and more marketeer centered. For example, the family planning social
marketing campaign is often dismissed as propaganda efforts by the government.
The viewers are sceptical about the motive behind the message and the campaign
impact is limited.
Although social behaviour marketing attempts to harness the insights of behavioural
sciences in the task of social change, its power to bring about change is limited. This
is especially so if the target audience has an 'investment value' in the behavioural
pattern, for example, a campaign asking for equal rights/treatment for women is
likely to have minimal impact with male chauvinists. In comparison, a campaign to
save petrol will have a better impact.
For a campaign to succeed, a variety of measures and person to person follow-up
are important. For example, for the family planning campaign to have been
successful, it should have been backed by mass awareness of the benefits of family
planning, intensive counselling, street plays, free and easy access of contraceptives
and so on.
Social Marketing Process
When a worker wishes to use the social behaviour marketing model as a tool for
awareness raising, his or her first task is to identify the social value that is to be
promoted and then determine the strategy for translating the idea into practice.
Illustration 1 depicts this concept with reference to education and equality in rearing
of the girl child.
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 47
The core elements of a social marketing campaign are, the cause, the change
agent, the target adopters, the channels and the change strategy. The principal
focus of the marketing strategy is to motivate parents to welcome the birth of a girl
child, treat both their children equally, and to educate the girl child. The underlying
message being that the female offspring can be as 'valuable' as a male offspring.
The government can be viewed as the primary change agent. International and
national organisations who have promoted the concept of 'the girl child' could be
viewed as secondary change agents. The two groups of target adopters are the
parents and the extended family, especially the grandparents. The primary channels
of communication used are mass media mainly television and radio. The change
strategy involves, promoting the ideology of human dignity irrespective of the
gender. Through this, the campaign hopes to bring about an attitudinal change in the
population wherein both children are treated equally.
The main steps involved in the social marketing process are: analysing the
environment; researching and selecting the target adopter population; designing
social marketing strategies; planning social marketing mix programmes; organising,
implementing, controlling and evaluating the social marketing efforts.
Analysing the Social Marketing Environment:
This involves researching the
environment to learn about the market and the probable effectiveness of alternative
marketing approaches. Social advertising will amount to a shot in the dark unless it
is preceded by careful market research. Therefore, while designing the campaign on
the girl child, the marketeers will have researched the following:
— the factors contributing towards poor treatment of the girl child,
— what type of 'product marketing'/advertising will appeal to the audience,
— what is the desired change as visualised by social activists and the government.
48 Jeroo Billimoria et al.
Researching and Selecting the Target Adopter Population:
This step is very
essential for maximising the campaign effect. The target adopter population for the
campaign on the girl child comprises of parents and the extended family. The
primary focus is the rural population.
The social marketeers should have researched to gather information about the
socio-demographic characteristics, psychological profile and behavioural character-
istics of the target adopters.
Designing Social Marketing Strategies:
The social marketing strategy specifies the
game plan for achieving the objectives of the social marketing campaign which
includes determining the objectives to be achieved and stating criteria for
evaluation. The following is an example.
(related on adopter behaviour actions and
equal treatment for
equal admission and attendance rate in schools
for boys and girls
similar nutritional status.
This helps the social marketeer determine effectiveness of the campaign and
evaluate what stage the target adopter is at. It also helps the marketeer to determine
A change in the attitude towards the girl child through the Social Behavioural Model
could be as follows:
1 Understand that both children should be treated
2 Girl child as important or as 'valuable' as boy child
3 Not opposed to equal treatment
4 Positive response towards birth of girl child and/or
5 Send girl child to school and regular attendance
and low drop out.
Motivate to act
6 Equal nourishment for both children
7 No dowry
8 No female infanticide etc.
9 Continue equal treatment
Train and Reinforce
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 49
Targets for each stage and budget expenditure will have to be set accordingly.
Planning the Social Marketing Mix:
The choice of an advertising agency is important
for asocial marketing programme, the selection shall be based on experience of the
When designing, the agency should keep in mind the target adopter, factors
perpetuating poor treatment of the girl child and myths to be broken.
The promotion mix consists of four important components. These are mass
communication, selective communication, personal communication and promotion
Mass communication includes, television, radio and the print media. All these
means of communication should be conveying a consistent message.
Selective communication includes documentaries, video tapes, cable television and
special screening of films. This form of communication is essential to substantiate
the message communicated via mass media. Selective communication is an
effective tool to communicate the campaign message to rural audiences (having a
high video viewership) and communities.
Personal communication is essential for one-to-one reinforcement of the campaign
message. The various methods of personal communication are:
— case work (individual communication)
— group work or training programmes
— rap groups
— street plays or folk theatre followed by discussions
— mass rallys attended by famous personalities, talking about the subject
Promotion incentives are bonuses/motivators for individuals who translate the idea
into action. For example, Rs.100/- was paid to individuals undergoing sterilisation.
Organising, Implementing, Controlling and Evaluating the Social Marketing Effort:
This includes budget allocation in terms of the four P's — product, price, place and
promotion. The social product is equal/better treatment to the girl child. The price
would include campaign costs and incentive costs. The place may be school,
household or day care centres. The promotion aspect has been discussed earlier.
The evaluation of this campaign could be calculated in terms of school registration
attendance and via measurement of weight/height and so on at Primary Health
Centres. If no substantial change is indicated a re-evaluation of the campaign will be
essential. Target adopter feedback about the campaign is also an important criterion
50 Jeroo Billimoria et al.
The Role of Media for Raising Public Awareness
Now let us look at the role that the media have played and can play in terms of
conveying knowledge and attitude about family life. It seems that much of the
agitational work raising family issues such as wife beating and dowry, was achieved
through effective street plays, or holding morchas,
demonstrations, etc. after an
atrocity was committed. Posters on these issues, or slogans gave voice to activist
work. The main target of such programmes have been the grass roots. In other
words, activists took to the streets, whenever they could organise themselves, and
the work of awareness raising was restricted to these occasional, sporadic events
during celebrations of Women's day, or other appropriate times. Such grass root
level work, excluded a vast majority — it did not address itself to the section in
charge of creating media images. In short, makers of media, people who are forming
opinions at the macro level are not aware of the political implications of violence to
women. Nor are their fundamental assumptions correct. As a result, we are
constantly bombarded with family images that have no bearing on social reality.
There is no group, or organisation to call the bluff on media humbug. In film after
film, or ad after ad, we get images that contradict reality.
Media options for raising public awareness are as follows:
— video magazines
— visual arts — posters, photography, painting, audio visuals
— street theatre and performing art
— print media
— campaigning through print, audio tapes, or other media
Their role in influencing images is discussed below.
Cinema can be broken up into three or four distinct sections. The most powerful,
with a national outreach, are Hindi language films in the commercial circuit. It is here
that we get the most blatantly sexist images. Commercial cinema is notorious for
creating and maintaining stereotypes. It also reinforces orthodox, sometimes, rigid
views. Films such as 'Pati Parmeshwar', 'Maang Bharo Sajana', reinstate the image
of a feet-worshipping, passive wife. Attempts to 'ban' these films can be corrected
only with positive alternatives through other media images. The Indian new wave
directors have ostensibly taken to "women's" themes. These are not above
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 51
suspicion. Firstly, taking up women's subjects, is a clear sign of toeing the official
line. The Government approves of propaganda for the backward and oppressed
class. Women fall within that framework. Thus it is convenient to aim at national
prizes, on the basis of an approved subject. Moreover, many of the films in this
generation present a fatalistic world view. 'Dasi' is only one example in that
direction. In 'Dasi' or 'Kamla Ki Maut', there is an inherent negative message —
anyone born female is doomed to suffer. Few films, therefore, project reality.
It is only documentaries that express any measure of truth. Whether it is a woman's
subject or a film on the Bhopal gas tragedy, documentary directors objectively
present reality 'as it is'. True, the government sponsored documentaries stoop to
aggressively propagating the official point of view. However, independent film
makers have taken hold of certain subjects, to present reality. The documentary film
is thus a powerful means of raising public awareness.
Short Films is another area, where effective public awareness is possible. In fact,
the government and many advertisement agencies have 'public service cells'.
Through this cell, films on public interest are made. These films are then shown on
Doordarshan, and circulated on video. Though most commonly, it is through
Doordarshan that these films are distributed.
Issues of civic importance, on environment, or communal harmony, have been
made for public service. We have campaigns that are extremely sensitive, from this
kind of media. One positive example is a campaign on urbanisation. The visual in
one campaign was of a concrete highrise building. At the base is a one line message
which simply states: 'Mummy, is that a tree?'. The visual, with this simple base line
captures the threat of overurbanisation, beautifully.
Public service films on women, however, leave much to be desired. One film
showed a pregnant woman, about to eat her meal. Another woman counsels the
pregnant woman, "You must now have a wholesome diet". Next we see what a
wholesome diet comprises of. This film was criticised by women's groups who rightly
objected to the focus on 'now'. It clearly implied that only pregnant women have the
right to a 'wholesome' meal. It is in instances like this that makers of public service
films, need to be shown various perspectives.
The advertisement media is full of mischief and continues to project blatantly sexist
images of women. To sell a car or a detergent, the female anatomy is used as a peg.
Exploring female sexuality has been a favourite advertisement technique. Since
advertisers, or agencies who have multinational clients control all media — both
government or non-government — they are the most powerful of all. It is virtually an
empire, impregnable as far as social activists are concerned. Besides, 'activist' is a
52 Jeroo Billimoria et al.
'dirty' password for the people in the media. They view women's activists as
trouble-makers. Making inroads into this closely guarded empire requires grit and
fully tested means.
The performing arts or the plastic arts on the other hand, have been always
supporting social progress as do writers, poets and serious journalists, from the print
One of the most important awareness programmes currently being done, is the
dance 'Sakti' by Darpana Dance Academy (Ahmedabad). This 90 minute pro-
gramme capsules historical moments in the women's movement. These include the
Chipko movement, and the tragedy of the Kerala sisters, among others. The
post-independence era has seen some brilliant work on the stage with socially
purposeful theatre. World famous dancers like Uday Shankar tackled the difficult
subject of untouchability through dance drama. Secularism was another important
subject taken as themes in many of these post-independence cultural programmes.
Thus progressive ideals were made the content of drama, dance, poetry, painting, in
almost every generation.
We find extremely revolutionary songs from the rich treasury of folk music in every
language. These traditional songs, written to rouse people's social conscience, have
long been forgotton — or replaced by hybrid film culture. Many revolutionary songs
need to be revived for the younger generation. Music and dance form an integral
part of cultural progress. Both these lend themselves ideally as vehicles of social
Today, media options are many and the electronic media is truly a powerful force.
However, it is easy to be deceived by spectacular media images, or swayed by
emotive messages. While the government controlled media preaches secularism
and national integrity, a proliferation of non-government media, particularly those
sponsored by big business houses, spread a fundamentalist right wing and
communal virus. There is no control over this kind of media. Many media experts
feel the future belongs to this powerful, private media, and have justified grievances
about the mischief that can be caused.
Living in an advanced capitalist state — we are principally consumers. Our lives and
politics are controlled by the media. In turn those who control this all-powerful
communication network, are not necessarily above board. It is extremely important
to achieve some checks on the excesses of media. Not by way of censorship, for
censorship has proved a self-defeating mechanism. What could be recommended
to the government is groups comprised of sensitive individuals, drawn from a
cross-section of persons of standing such as writers, journalists and media experts.
These small groups could effectively intervene any programme before it is publicly
released on media. The group must ideally be autonomous, and act as the people's
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 53
If cells like this are created within the framework of advertisement agencies, Doordarshan
(T.V.), and radio, a two-tier system may function on an experimental
basis. The whole exercise is to make people at the helm of media, creative heads,
filmmakers, producers and editors, accountable. The perceptions of these important
functionaries within the media network have to be reviewed seriously. Besides, the
cell is not to be treated as a watchdog, but a support bulwark, providing expertise
democratically, for a greater unity of vision within the media. Therefore, the work of
raising public awareness, is essentially targeted at two sections, the public, and
those engaged in public service — including the whole spectrum of media.
One very important element of raising public awareness, is an experiential
communication. Using art forms such as street plays, theatre, music, films, is one
way of communication, but it remains distant if no discussions are organised after
the performance is over. Use of the media along with discussions is definitely
effective for stimulating a resocialisation process. Another way is involving people
themselves, to reflect upon their own life, to encourage them to analyse it. Group
discussions and workshops are techniques developed by psychologists, as a part of
social work and personnel management disciplines. It assumes a certain accep-
tance from the people you are going to work with. The third, and more indirect
method is to evolve a programme where dialogues based on experiences are
encouraged. It can be organised both ways, formally and informally, in family
gatherings or at picnics, with friends or at annual gatherings of neighbours.
In the following text, two experiences are presented of these kinds of programmes
along with a list of other programmes some of us have organised successfully on
raising awareness about family life.
Dialogue with divorcees.
Nate Raktache, Nate Maitreeche
(Kinship relations versus relations through
The programme was organised by a middle class women's group to celebrate the
International Women's Day. The idea was to make people question whether there
exists equality and a nurturing attitude between husband and wife in daily life on
various counts. In fact, the name of the programme was carefully chosen to reflect
the progressive stand that marriage is not a legal entity, but something much more,
a companionship transcending the contractual relationship.
54 Jeroo Billimoria et al.
Six couples were chosen on two criteria; firstly, that they were willing to share their
life with others, and secondly that they were from different backgrounds, such as
both the partners working, wife not working, husband not working, belonging to
different generations etc.
A panel of three persons was chosen for discussing their relationship in three main
areas of life: economic, social and emotional. The questions were fielded on the
floor as optional, to create an atmosphere of chatting rather than making the
speakers conscious and uncomfortable.
The questions on the social dimension began by an obvious enquiry whether their
marriage was an arranged one or the one after 'falling in love' with each other. What
were the criteria used to choose a partner? Did the bride change her maiden name,
including surname, or insisted on keeping it? The young wife had retained her
maiden name and was ready to give an explanation for the same. The old couple
could throw light on the practices of their times and took pride in narrating the small
rebellions such as marrying into another sect of the same caste, which became an
issue at that time.
Assessing economic equality was the difficult part as there was scepticism about
how speakers would take it. It was important to evaluate the status of the
non-working spouse. Did she/he feel insecure? Who owns the house? What was the
arrangement thought out in case of dispute? Who took the decision for allocation of
family income? Could any one of them tell us any small incident which hurt her/him
or revealed that she/he lacked power and was taken for granted? Who spent money
for the maternity expenses? Thus areas of having real equality, not just the
professed one, were thrashed out. Fortunately, the speakers, men and women were
very free and came out with a number of anecdotes, showing that the process of
equality was an evolutionary one, and through experiences they became aware of
many small issues that are important.
Emotional equality was the most challenging area for the interviewers. Sharing
about one's private life in public is a difficult task. The simple question was were
there any periods of intense disagreements, on what issues, and how did they solve
them. Among the various issues which were presented, the issue of the love triangle
was the most sensational, but the way it was solved, displayed all the possibilities of
a mature relationship between husband and wife.
The programme was meant for a mixed audience and 250 people were present. The
response was lively, which was reflected in the way a few questions were raised
from the audience, which was totally involved. It went on for two and a half hours.
Relationship between parents and children
Dialogue across the generations
Discussion about marriage ceremonies
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 55
Relations between Parents and Children
One informal programme is chosen to convey the spirit of this kind of dialogue. It
was an occasion to celebrate the recovery of a person from a heart surgery. His only
daughter (a doctor) had slogged and other relatives had offered blood and other
kinds of help during his illness. All the relatives were together. Instead of the usual
gossiping we thought why not understand what our children have to say about our
bringing-up practices. The parents and children of one family came to the floor one
by one and one of us took the position for monitoring. Anybody was free to raise
questions, criticising a particular style of that specific parent couple, demanding
explanations, or asking the children to react. Too blunt a question was discarded by
the monitoring person, or sometimes it was properly worded and fielded. The
important element in the situation was that there was a sufficient number of children
who were mature enough to reflect upon their early childhood experience, as well as
bold enough to speak about contemporary events, such as developing a love
relationship and attitude showed by parents. The event really brought out the wide
range of attitudes and values that the parents and children were nurturing.
It was interesting to see how perceptions of the same behaviour differ. The parents
who felt that they gave freedom to the children, were criticised for being so self
indulgent and busy leading their own social life that they did not pay enough
attention to the children.
Another important question raised was whether children suffer because of
contradictory practices of parents regarding how to rear a child. Did daughters feel
that they were discriminated against? Were parents too possessive and did they
impose their wills regarding careers on the children? How much freedom did the
children enjoy especially regarding friendships?
In the discussions which followed as a part of the answering sessions, many rules or
values were established as guiding principles for the younger parents. Many issues
were thrashed out, such as the balance between indulgence, authoritarian
behaviour and nurturing guidance. Patterns of socialisation, especially subtle
gender socialisation, also emerged.
A general observation is that extremely deviant cases do not feel free to share their
problems or experiences in these gatherings, but reasonable contradictions do
emerge and instead of getting embarrassed, there is a sense of relief. Very rarely,
the contradictions do become explosive, if either of the parties is not sportive
enough, and takes it as a humiliation.
In one of the family gatherings, panel interviews were conducted of a group of
people belonging to the same generation. Thus daughters-in-law got a chance to
complain about the mothers-in-law across the generations. Personal curiosity about
the behaviour of very modern couples in the family was satisfied by a lot of younger
people. The atmosphere became much more relaxed after these sessions.
56 Jeroo Biilimoria et al.
Intensive Awareness Raising
Women and men need to be organised in separate groups, also known as rap
groups, for this purpose. This kind of group emerged in the West in a spontaneous
manner, at the beginning of the women's movement. Students on the university
campuses, or women colleagues of radical organisations, neighbourhood women,
came together and shared their daily life experiences of men, in various capacities.
It was the most liberal, radical period after the reconstruction of the economies
damaged in the Second World War had taken place. The aspirations for equality and
freedom were running high among women along with other minorities, such as
blacks and migrants. Women had realised that a corresponding response from men
was lacking. Sharing their experiences of individual life, helped women to shift their
anger from individual men to inherent structural problems of inequality. Women
could see the subtle oppression inherent in the role of a housewife, however nice a
husband they had. Thus these sessions operated at two levels; for a harrassed
woman, they gave courage to speak out and seek remedies, for some other women,
frustrated, they motivated looking for root causes of women's specific oppression
The technique used was narration of self testimonies. It was very difficult for women
to talk about their private life, particularly, because in the industrialised countries,
individualism has been associated with the concept of sanctity of privacy. Another
barrier was the idea of romantic love, which nobody would like to betray. In India, the
situation among the middle class women is a little different. Instead of privacy, one is
worried about the family honour. Also, there are very few options open for a
harrassed woman. Still, one notices that aspirations for equality are increasing. The
technique of self testimonies can be used here too, which helps women to sort out
what they can do with the limited options open to them in their life.
At least one group of men has come together in Pune and started the rap group
technique, to probe into their own lives and to critically examine their own process of
gender socialisation. It is a very novel idea, because the oppressed are more likely
to come together to redress their grievances, but the dominant group does not find it
necessary to be critical towards their own existence. Here the basis for coming
together for these men is that they feel oppressed because of a burden of their
masculine identity. They organised a small workshop for college students and made
them reflect upon their attitude towards their female colleagues, including the kind of
language they used to talk about them, or the way they looked at female students
passing by while standing at the corner. The exercise revealed the sex object
attitude of the male students who felt ashamed of it. The best part was that men,
especially of their age, had organised the workshop, and hence a sharing
atmosphere could be maintained.
Why, when, and how to use these formal and informal group discussions is the
major issue. The different elements which are essential ingredients of these
techniques have to be thrashed out.
New Methods: Family Life Dev. Programmes 57
The students should be made aware that a certain maturity in terms of judgements
of various personalities, as well as an understanding of the issues is necessary to
monitor such programmes. How to maintain the rationalistic and reflective ethos of
these discussions, without allowing people to set sentimental, is the skill which is
Methods of Teaching/Learning
1. Part of the course content could be communicated through lectures.
2. A particular media campaign may be presented followed by discussion.
3. Role play may be conducted on how to conduct group discussions for raising
(a collection of TV snippets of family planning and girl child) followed by
2. Creative literature
Discuss newspaper articles with reference to the message they convey.
Kotler, P. and Andreasen, A.R.
Strategic Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations,
New Jersey: Prentice
OTHER SUGGESTED READINGS
Conors, T.D. (ed.)
The Non-Profit Management Handbook,
New York: McGraw Hill, Inc.
Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning Implementation and
Delhi: Prentice Hall of India.
Kotler, P., Ferrell, P.C
Strategic Marketing for Non-Profit Organizations,
and Lamb, C
Prentice Hall, Inc.
Lazer, W.B. and Kelly, E.
Social Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints,
The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. LIV, No. 1 (January 1993)