There’s no denying the fact that media holds an immense amount of power. We live in a culture that is dominated by images and there is a constant pull, if you will, of social influence exerted daily. Take, for instance, the phenomenon that occurred in Brazil. Throughout the course of four decades, the average family size dropped “from 6.3 children per woman in 1960 to 2.3 children in 2000” (Chait). How did this happen if the Brazilian government had no child policy in place to limit family size? Researchers found the culprit: television.
Globo, Brazil’s main television station, “expanded slowly and unevenly. The researchers found that areas that gained access to Globo saw larger drops in fertility than those that didn’t (Chait). The cause of the fertility drop was due to “exposure to the massively popular soap operas, or novelas, that most Brazilians watch every night” (Chait). Three quarters of the women portrayed in these novelas had no children. Researchers also found that those who watched television were more likely to name their children after novela characters.
When cable television started expanding and rapidly growing throughout the Indian countryside, researchers found similar effects. “Not only did women in villages with cable television begin bearing fewer children, as in Brazil, but they were also more able to leave their home without their husbands’ permission and more likely to disapprove of husbands abusing their wives, and the traditional preference for male children declined” (Chait).
There is no doubt television dramatically impacts the behaviors and attitudes of society. When looking back at society as a whole, it is easy to point out the massive shifts and changes that have occurred because those changes are pretty obvious. However, do you think the Brazilian and Indian woman who were watching cable television saw the effects of their actions taking place as they were occurring? When looking at the present state of a society and what is happening now, we’re either attentive to the effects, or numb to them.
Chait, Jonathan. New York Magazine. 19 Aug 2012: n. page. Print. <http://nymag.com/print/?/news/features/chait-liberal-movies-tv-2012-8/>.