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John McClung

ECON 496
Reaction Paper
October 22, 2014
Cultural Exposure and Improvements for Women
The exposure of both men and women can have a significant effect on improvements in
quality of life as well as gender equality. Jenson and Oster explain the role of cable television in
elevating the status of women in Indian society in their paper The Power of TV: Cable
Television and Womens Status in India.
Jenson and Oster give credit to the power of television to expose individuals to cultural
norms, values, and attitudes different from their own. In India, this could be the exposure of rural
society to urban culture. They explain One plausible mechanism is that television exposes rural
households to urban lifestyles, values, and behaviors that are radically different from their own
and that households begin to adopt or emulate some of these (Jenson 1091). Access to cable
television could also provide exposure to Western cultural values including gender equality.
There has already been a measurable effect thus far. Jenson and Oster write we find that
the introduction of cable television is associated with significant decreases in the reported
acceptability of domestic violence toward women and son preference, as well as increases in
womens autonomy and decreases in fertility. We also find suggestive evidence that exposure to
cable increases school enrollment for younger children, perhaps through increased participation
of women in household decision making (Jenson 1057).

It is important to understand in what way television is having these effects on society.

The Power of TV details some factors television may affect fertility by providing information
on family planning services or changing the value of womens time. Or women may be given
more freedom to do things outside the home such as going to the market, because the value of
mens leisure is increased by television (Jenson 1091).
I think that these effects could be emulated within other areas that are struggling with
improving gender equality. The paper describes programs to provide televisions in developing
countries but with increased access to internet that may be as valuable of a resource in bridging
cultural gaps. Access to internet has massive potential to provide cultural exposure to regions
that are currently more culturally isolated. Currently, both Facebook and Google are developing
projects to bring internet for free to areas without significant access to the web. Facebooks
project is working with drones that fly overhead beaming Wi-Fi to the people below, while
Googles project involves Wi-Max that would bring free regional wireless internet services to
underserved areas. I believe that this would be the most effective way to provide developing
areas with cultural exposure to more egalitarian ideas.