7.4.5  Society

Society as a whole has many influences on individual and community behaviour, including norms and values, attitudes and opinions, and laws and policies. Society also creates a physical, economic and cultural environment.

Communicating at the society level can include using the mass media and other types of social mobilisation. For example, HIV or TB educational programmes can be achieved through school, church and workplace education programmes (Figure 7.5).

Members of the community standing around. One community member is talking.
Figure 7.5  Everyone in the community needs to be able to discuss important health messages. (Photo: FMOH/WT)
  • Suppose you wish to design a communication strategy on the promotion of family planning. The majority of the couples in your community may lack appropriate information about contraceptive methods. Also, the culture is such that children are considered an asset for the community. Many grandparents, in-laws and other key community members believe that contraception is against God’s will. In addition, some healthcare users have reported dissatisfaction with their healthcare providers and tend to discontinue their use of the family planning services. Looking back at the communication levels described in this section, which levels should you design your communication strategy for — and what sorts of things do you think will be important at each level?

  • Your communication would be aimed at different levels. At the individual level and with couples you can influence factors such as knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and values. At the family or social network level you have to give attention to reinforcing factors such as the attitude of grandparents and husbands towards using contraception. Finally, at the organisational level you should consider any enabling factors such as whether contraceptives are available in your locality or not.

7.4.4  Communities

7.5  Types of communication