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Communicating new ideas to traditional villagers (an Indonesian case).

  • Muis, A
Published Article
Media Asia
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1984
PMID: 12314265


Recent cases derived from a series of communication research projects conducted in remote villages on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, are presented. These cases, which indicate the tremendously complex problem of communicating new ideas to traditional villages, also reflect the equally complex problem of social marketing. Indonesian, villagers remain very traditional, but their communication environment has been undergoing marked changes over the past decade or so. Overwhelming media exposure has pushed these people towards a modern environment filled with new knowledge and experiences. In view of the importance of changing attitudes and behavior of traditional villagers -- to realize modernization for the rural society -- the government of Indonesia has been using a host of communication means and channels. These include all the viable traditional or indigenous communication systems, but mainly face-to-face communication. Traditional dances, story-telling, and music are no longer interesting to the rural people themselves, and, apparently, no real developmental message can be transmitted by traditional "mass media." Among the 50 respondents randomly selected from the isolated village of Gelang (Case I), only 17% claimed to have listened to news in addition to music and songs. 67% of the respondents explained that information carrying novel ideas or methods usually attract them, but they are always reluctant to accept the new ideas for real application. Case II is about the effect of movie exposure on traditional villagers. As many as 73% of 50 respondents explained that the knowledge of the peasant-fisherman has increased considerably with regard to the urban way of life, as a result of movie attendance. The informants indicated that many villagers were disgusted by feature films or theatrical ones and that 62% of the villagers had yet to go to a movie. Case III involved the communication of new methods of medication to rural societies, including traditional medicinemen and women. Villagers were taught to cure diarrhea with oral rehydration. The result is that diarrhea has not reached epidemic proportions in the province of South Sulawesi at any time during the past 3 years. In sum, communicating new values to traditional people is an arduous task. There are a number of related variables that often influence the process of communication of new ideas to traditional villagers.

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