The social approach to communication emphasises on the effect of the message on the other person or persons. According to this approach, the message needs to have stimulation value and effect. Communication can take place at different development levels of the social system. A social system has been defined as a collectivity of units which are functionally differentiated and engaged in joint problem solving for a common goal. The members or units of a social system may be individuals, informal groups or complex organisations.
Schramm conceptualised a relationship between development communication and economic growth, the main development activity. He emphasised that for evolving a development communication system in the developing nations, economic development, education, urbanisation and communication development are all inter-linked.
Rogers chalked out a wider role for communication in development. He emphasized the need for more rigorous investigations and theoretic rationale for communication planning. Daniel Lerner emphasized the relationship between communication, urbanisation and modernisation, which led to the belief that greater the communication facilities, greater or faster the modernisation. Development and communication thinking in most developing countries including India was also influenced by Rostow’s (1960) economic theories and Laissez-faire concept of the market economy. The trickle-down effect was central to this model of development. Diffusion of Innovation studies systematically investigated the trickle-down mechanism and processes.
In India, after the end of British rule, more important issues before the country were eradication of illiteracy, increase in agricultural production, promotion of family planning and generation of employment. From the early stages of the introduction of mass media in India, the concept of communication and development has remained interwoven.
The effects of communication have been observed as inhibitive and persuasive in development. The extent to which communication, both interpersonal and mediated, contributes to development depends upon the policies and strategies adopted and the skill with which the communication tools are used.
The communication priorities are national development-oriented (Uma Narula). The six functions which are assigned to communication are information, education, communication within the cultural matrix (known by the acronym I.E.C), motivation, entertainment and discontent.
The concept of development communication gained prominence with the introduction and application of agriculture extension during the latter half of the 194Os and early 1950s in most of the developing countries, The need for bridging the gap between the haves and have-nots called for a new philosophy and approach in the efforts aimed at achieving these objectives. This necessitated rational decisions on the part of people. Thus the importance of communication as a tool to motivate and persuade people to eliciting a positive response to various development ideas grew manifold. The years following World war-II saw the birth of multilateral development assistance through International Monitory Fund, World Bank and UN family of specialized agencies and the emergence of bilateral development assistance to help newly independent developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin-America. The development was thought to be speeded up at a rate even faster than the advanced countries. It is this orientation of development which came to be known as the Dominant Paradigm. The role of mass media was very clearly implied in this dominant paradigm of development (Uma Narula).
At this stage, a one-way top-down transmission of development information based on the modernisation theory gained momentum. But it started failing as dominated these societies without consideration of their cultures values and traditions. To avoid such failures emphasis was laid upon the need for participatory approaches to develop communication.
After the failure of development communication paradigm based on modernisation and dependency theory of development, the focus shifted on participatory development communication paradigm. This means making people feel more a part of the process. In this transactional model of development communication, the basic model cement source, message, channel and receiver are combined with organisational and socio-cultural change concepts interfaced by processes of communication and participation (Nair and White).
Lerner (1958) argued that the government of the developing countries have social control on the participatory activities of the individuals Schramm (1964) observed that participatory group processes were fundamental to any form of development or grówth activity. The effectiveness of the development communication depends on the type and kind of audience, the image of development, bureaucracy and the interpretations of media practitioners.