The western model for development predominated in 1950s and 1960s. The modernization paradigm arose soon after World War II, in 1949. It envisioned development as a challenge to bring the "underdeveloped countries" out of their conditions of poverty by modernizing them and by by free-market approaches.
The origin, principles, and applications of this paradigm should be considered within the historical context of the postwar years, also known as the Cold War period. On that tine when world influence was polarized by two superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. Their influence reached every sphere of the international scenario, including development. In this context, the modernization paradigm promoted by political scientists and scholars of Western countries became so strong and so pervasive in every dimension of social life that it became also known as the "dominant paradigm."
Rogers (1960) called this the “dominant paradigm” of development as it exercised a dominant influence in the field of development. The emphasis of this model was that development could be achieved by increased productivity, economic growth and industrialization, through heavy industries, capital intensive technologies, urbanization, centralized planning. Development was measured by gross national product (GNP), total or per capita income. There was a shift from a static, agricultural, primitive and rigid society to a dynamic, industrialized, urbanized and socially mobile nation.
Daniel Lerner and Wilbur Schramm (1964) supported the dominant paradigm and
advocated automation and technology for development and change. They made significant contributions in identifying the role of communication for technological development. The development community argued that the case of underdevelopment in the developing countries was not due to external causes but due to internal causes present within the nation and the individual as well as within the social structure.
Lerner and Schramm stressed that the individual was to be blamed to the extent that he was resistant to change and modernization, whereas Rogers, Bordenave and Beltran (1976) argued that the social structural constraints like government bureaucracy, top-heavy land tenure system, caste, exploitative linkages, etc. were to be blamed.
Lerner pointed that since the individual was identified as the cause of
underdevelopment, he was also the starting point to bring about social change. The
modernization of the individual‟s traditional values became the priority task. Rogers pointed that no effort was made to change the social structure though it had been identified as of the causes of underdevelopment.
Lerner identified four indices of development: industrialization, literacy, media exposure and political participation. People have to be mobile, empathetic,and participatory for development. Lerner (1958) suggested that media exposure, political participation and developing psychic empathy are necessary for development. Modern society is a participant society and it works by consensus.
Lerner‟s Communication Model for Development Thus, in the dominant paradigm the communication flow was one way which was top- down vertical communication from the authorities to the people, the mass media channels were used to mobilize the people for development and the audience was assigned a passive role for acceptance of social change.
At the cultural level, modernization advocated for a change in the mindset of individuals in poor countries who had to abandon traditional beliefs, considered an impediment toward modernization, and embrace attitudes and behaviors favorable to innovation and modernity (Lerner 1958).
At the technocratic level, modernization required people with inquisitive minds who were guided by faith in the scientific method and rooted in the principles of enlightenment.
At the political level, it required staunch advocates of the doctrine of liberalism based on political freedom and the adoption of democratic systems.
Finally, at the economic level, it required blind faith in the virtues and power of the free market, with no or minimal government intervention.
Inter dependent Model of Development: Rogers, and many other
In the 1970s, this approach was being critically reviewed. Several viewpoints were forwarded to show why development did not work. One such approach is the “Interdependent Model”. The development philosophy of this approach is the same as that of the dominant paradigm to the extent that the emphasis is on economic growth for development. The supporters of this approach start with the assumption that development and underdevelopment are the two facets of the same process. One cannot understand the nature and essentiality of one in isolation from the other.
The development philosophy of the dependency model is that foreign penetration,technology and information have created underdevelopment rather than being a force for development. The economic and cultural dependency on developed countries shapes the social and economic structures of many developing countries. Within this paradigm, the conception of development is a linear one based on trust in science, reason, technology, and the free market. The main role of communication was to persuade people to embrace the core values and practices of modernization.
Disadvantage of Dominant Approach
Critics of this paradigm attacked its economic focus. In this approach over emphasized the power of individual countries and ignored the elements such as colonization, past exploitation of resources and globalization.
The Media communication & Modernization theory
It is argued that the diffusion of the life-style of the developed country through mass media aggravates social inequality, because the communication and diffusion of the modernized life-style is only among the rural and urban elites. But the consumerism created by the mass media frustrates the poor as it does not fit in with their economic and social reality. The communication strategies suggested are: to educate the people about the vicious nature and the stifling dependency relationships, to mobilize national and regional support communication channels. They argue that mass media system in these countries is caught in the dependency relationships and at times actively supports them. Therefore, communication strategies should serve the educational and mobilizing functions. Mass media could be employed purposefully once structural transformation of society takes place
In the communication field, modernization theory led to the first systematic and rigorous attempts to research communication applications in the development context. A few scholars started to devote increasing attention to communication processes and effects, among them Lasswell (1948), Katz and Lazarfeld (1955), and Klapper (1960), while others, such as Lerner (1958), Rogers (1962), and Schramm (1964), became particularly interested in studying how communication could be used to foster national development, which at that time was conceived predominantly in economic terms.
Communication in the dominant paradigm is basically associated with the linear, mass media model aimed at transmitting information and messages from one point to another or many others, usually in a vertical or top-down fashion. This idea was rooted in the strong belief in the persuasive power of media, especially until the 1970s. Development communication was associated with the use of media to persuade people to achieve, maintain, and strengthen development goals, and media's role was paramount. UNESCO, for example, considered media to be a crucial means for promoting change,' and in the 1960s.