Development-biological, social, economic and political is the continuous result of evolution, adaptation and innovation, so do the technology. Media is a blessing of modern breakthrough that dislodged the traditional forms human communication. The communicative world is now in a great transformation and convergence grounding on a number of digital communication apparatuses along with mainstream media.
Bangladesh, more specifically the rural area, is not any exception. A thousand-years of traditional society now is in an astronomical change, and somewhat media is re-shaping and transposing the 'customary 'rural community and culture of Bangladesh into a new one.
Before modern media came
Storytelling was the primitive form of human communication in ancient society. Cuneiform by Sumerians was the first and greatest invention in the history of human communication. Later, discovery of paperin China during the regime of Han, writing on paper by scholar in Islamic Golden Age, 'Printing Revolution' in Europe by Gutenberg and many other issues together facilitated the way towards modern human communication.
From the 19th century, the world has experience the rising of various new modesof communication: radio wave, photographic image, motion pictures etc. In underprivileged backward rural Bangladesh, except storytelling, Puthi, Poter Gaan, Jaatra Pala, Folk music, etc. were popular entertainment media, and physical context of having face-à-face communication.
Media in rural area
Radio as a mainstream media took its root in rural Bangladesh after mid-19th century. Introduction to television is not an incident of more than three decades earlier. Inclination of audience shows at least 67% of the total rural population watch television in 2011, according to Nielsen Media and Demographic Survey.
Due to lower literacy rate, sparsely populated area, lower income level, transportation problem, remoteness and other demographic and geographic factors, newspaper could not find enough scope as a media like radio and television those are respectively audio and audio-visual media.
A 'Paradigm Shift'?
In villages, number of television sets is limited comparing to its audience. Often a village contains merely a few television sets in the house of opulent families. Usually villagers gather there to enjoy programs; therefore it becomes a platform of effective communication between each other that renders social cohesion among them.
But nowadays, the previous nature of media is changing in some degrees with the invasion of digital technology-based new media (e.g. social networking sites). Educated, semi-educated, even non-educated youngsters are following the global trend and becoming more prone tomore-free as well as efficacious 'single-user-based-media 'cultivating more local alienation but national and in some extent global integration.
With the benefit of media, traditional public spheres of rural area are in rapid transformation. Tea stall is losing its previous stance as an astounding public sphere in rural society where elite villagers use together and discuss and decide on random matters. Other gatherings such as waz mahfils,mela, haat, ashor, etc. are also in decline due the rapid penetration of entertainment media.
Changes in public spheres are not only re-shaping the regular scenario of rural lives but also influencing public discourses. Political issues and discussions on national politics usually those are directly linked with rural inhabitants dominate the present discourse of rural elites. Young people using new media often actively join the broader community as discussants in new public sphere.
Changes in culture intensely depend on cultural adaptation. There are two direct linkage or 'bridge' between urban and rural: road and transport, and media communication. Media in recent years are acing more swiftly than the transportation which is instigating thousand-years of traditional culture to change. In this case, media is creating a 'parallel modernity', as Brian Larking demonstrated, the similar culture in different places-a cultural convergence.
Rural women are becoming more prone to salwar kameez, maxiand other modern and stylish dresses as easy garmentswhichis somewhat affecting the production of saree as well as loom industry. Young community is habituating in pant, pajama, t-shirt and fashionable dresses introduced through media advertising and programs. Behavior, belief, norm, custom, cuisine, even interpersonal and group relationship is often determined howmedia wants it to be.
For the beauty of nature, wonderful landscape, pollution-free atmosphere, serene life, agriculture and food supply, raw materials for industries, etc., rural area has a significant importance. But rurality is decaying in a silent mode, traditional society is diving towards modernity, and past nature of rural society is diminishing. Media, in this process, takes part as well as contributes in some extent.
Albeit media is hammering and eradicating the fundamentalism and superstitions that has been fostering for thousand years by the relatively 'conservative' community of rural Bangladesh, it is loosening the bonding between village dwellers wherein popular discontents is on rise.
The writer is a researcher at Jahangirnagar University ------Sayeed Ovi