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Communication and Social Change: A Position Paper and Conference Report

This paper provides a 1999 status report on the evolving field of communication for social change. The ideas expressed are a compilation of inputs from a network of professionals across the world which the Rockefeller Foundation's department of communication assembled to explore new ideas and test innovative communication concepts.

Communication for social change is part of an evolution of communication methodology that can help accelerate global development. The process began in the first quarter of the 20th century with the use of publicity tools to bring attention to social problems such as hunger and disease. It grew to a reliance on public relations as a means of identifying stakeholders and creating programs to fit the audience's interests. More recently, social marketing took center stage - where sophisticated marketing and cause related advertising tools were applied to influence individual and societal behaviors - such as convincing couples in poor nations to use contraceptives. This was followed by development communication and strategic communication, the latter which rightfully considers communication to be a process rather than as a series of products.

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