The theoretical framework proposed to anchor this research will
be based in these two conflictive theories, social cognitive learning
and dialogical communication (participatory communication). Even
though differences exist between these two theoretical approaches,
it is also possible to identify points of convergence.
Morris (2003) studied 44 projects of developmental communication
by comparing their outcomes and analyzing the gaps and overlaps
between the two approaches. She argues that even though many scholars
establish diffusion and participatory models at opposite ends of
the spectrum, they are not totally opposite. The diffusion model
has expanded to incorporate participatory practices since its initial
creation, and participatory processes have to involve some form
of information transfer. By the same token, social learning theory,
well used in the entertainment-education strategy and part of the
dominant paradigm, intersects with important components of the dialogical
At the heart of this convergence is the concept of empowerment,
defined by Bandura (1977) as the process through which an individual
perceives that he or she controls their own situation. Freire and
Bandura believed that reality is not fate. Both theorists share
the understanding that one can actually intervene in the construct
of a new reality. Through self-efficacy, people believe in their
ability to exercise control over events that affect their lives
(Bandura, 1995), which can be correlated to the notion of empowerment
advocated by the dialogical theory. Empowerment and self-efficacy
are both based in self-reflection. Bandura (1997) continues to explain
his perception of empowerment:
Empowerment is not something bestowed through edict. It is gained
through development of personal efficacy that enables people to
take advantages of the opportunities and to remove environmental
constraints guarded by those whose interests are served by them.
Those who exercise authority and control do not go around voluntarily
granting to others power over resources and entitlements in acts
of beneficence. A share of benefits and control must be negotiated
through concerted effort and often times through prolonged struggle.
Even though the concept of empowerment lacks a single definition,
according to the participatory model it is also extended to the
collective, to social and community empowerment (McLaren 1997).
Empowerment can be related to “communities making decisions
for themselves and acquiring knowledge”, as in the case of
health issues (Waisbord, 2001). Collective efficacy, according to
Bandura’s definition, relates to the common belief in the
power to create desired effects by collective action (Bandura, 1997).
Freire believes that Subjects are able to liberate themselves and
transform reality through praxis; in other words, actions and reflection
bring change in the social construct. Analyzing Bandura’s
statement, one can infer that the struggle between oppressor and
oppressed is conquered through a collective effort, which is similar
to what Freire says.
It is evident that subscribers to these different theories disagree
on the expected outcome of the strategy used; behaviorists expect
a short-term impact, while participatory theorists believe in long-term
policy and political changes. Behavior modification is the goal
of the diffusion paradigm, while participatory interventions aim
for social and policies change (Waisbord, 2001). Nevertheless, these
theories are not completely divergent. It is not proposed here to
assemble them together as if they were one, but to understand them
in their essence, and to be able to find a common ground.