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Sep 20, 2015

The Propaganda Model Revisited

The Propaganda Model Revisited
Edward S. Herman
Monthly Review, July, 1996

In Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Pantheon, 1988) Noam Chomsky and I put forward a "propaganda model" as a framework for analyzing and understanding how the mainstream U.S. media work and why they perform as they do. We had long been impressed with the regularity with which the media operate within restricted assumptions, depend heavily and uncritically on elite information sources, and participate in propaganda campaigns helpful to elite interests. In trying to explain why they do this we looked for structural factors as the only possible root of systematic behavior and performance patterns.

The propaganda model was and is in distinct contrast to the prevailing mainstream explanations -- both liberal and conservative -- of media behavior and performance. These approaches downplay structural factors, generally presupposing their unimportance or positive impact because of the multiplicity of agents and thus competition and diversity. Liberal and conservative analysts emphasize journalistic conduct, public opinion, and news source initiatives as the main determining variables. The analysts are inconsistent in this regard, however. When they discuss media systems in communist or other authoritarian states, the idea that journalists or public opinion can override the power of those who own and control the media is dismissed as nonsense and even considered an apology for tyranny. There is a distinct difference, too, between the political implications of the propaganda model and mainstream scholarship. If structural factors shape the broad contours of media performance, and if that performance is incompatible with a truly democratic political culture, then a basic change in media ownership, organization, and purpose is necessary for the achievement of genuine democracy. In mainstream analyses such a perspective is politically unacceptable, and its supportive arguments and evidence are rarely subject to debate.

In this article I will describe the propaganda model, address some of the criticism that has been leveled against it, and discuss how the model holds up nearly a decade after its publication.1 I will also provide some examples of how the propaganda model can help explain the nature of media coverage of important political topics in the 1990s.

The Propaganda Model
What is the propaganda model and how does it work? The crucial structural factors derive from the fact that the dominant media are firmly imbedded in the market system. They are profit-seeking businesses, owned by very wealthy people (or other companies); they are funded largely by advertisers who are also profit-seeking entities, and who want their ads to appear in a supportive selling environment. The media are also dependent on government and major business firms as information sources, and both efficiency and political considerations, and frequently overlapping interests, cause a certain degree of solidarity to prevail among the government, major media, and other corporate businesses. Government and large non-media business firms are also best positioned (and sufficiently wealthy) to be able to pressure the media with threats of withdrawal of advertising or TV licenses, libel suits, and other direct and indirect modes of attack. The media are also constrained by the dominant ideology, which heavily featured anticommunism before and during the Cold War era, and was mobilized often to prevent the media from criticizing attacks on small states labelled communist.

These factors are linked together, reflecting the multi-leveled capability of powerful business and government entities and collectives (e.g., the Business Roundtable; U.S. Chamber of Commerce; industry lobbies and front groups) to exert power over the flow of information. We noted that the five factors involved -- ownership, advertising, sourcing, flak, and anticommunist ideology -- work as "filters" through which information must pass, and that individually and often in additive fashion they help shape media choices. We stressed that the filters work mainly by the independent action of many individuals and organizations; these frequently, but not always, share a common view of issues and similar interests. In short, the propaganda model describes a decentralized and non-conspiratorial market system of control and processing, although at times the government or one or more private actors may take initiatives and mobilize coordinated elite handling of an issue.

Propaganda campaigns can occur only when consistent with the interests of those controlling and managing the filters. For example, these managers all accepted the view that the Polish government's crackdown on the Solidarity union in 1980-81 was extremely newsworthy and deserved severe condemnation; whereas the same interests did not find the Turkish military government's equally brutal crackdown on trade unions in Turkey at about the same time to be newsworthy or reprehensible. In the latter case the U.S. government and business community liked the military government's anticommunist stance and open door economic policy; and the crackdown on Turkish unions had the merit of weakening the Left and keeping wages down. In the Polish case, propaganda points could be scored against a Soviet-supported government, and concern could be expressed for workers whose wages were not paid by Free World employers! The fit of this dichotomization to corporate interests and anticommunist ideology is obvious.

We used the concepts of "worthy" and "unworthy" victims to describe this dichotomization, with a trace of irony, as the differential treatment was clearly related to political and economic advantage rather than anything like actual worth. In fact, the Polish trade unionists quickly ceased to be worthy when communism was overthrown and the workers were struggling against a western-oriented neoliberal regime. The travails of Polish workers now, like those of Turkish workers, do not pass through the propaganda model filters. They are both unworthy victims at this point.

We never claimed that the propaganda model explains everything or that it shows media omnipotence and complete effectiveness in manufacturing consent. It is a model of media behavior and performance, not media effects. We explicitly pointed to alternative media, grass roots information sources, and public skepticism about media veracity as important limits on media effectiveness in propaganda service, and we urged the support and more effective use of these alternatives. We have frequently pointed to the general public's disagreement with the media and elite over the morality of the Vietnam War and the desirability of the assault on Nicaragua in the 1980s (among other matters). The power of the U.S. propaganda system lies in its ability to mobilize an elite consensus, to give the appearance of democratic consent, and to create enough confusion, misunderstanding, and apathy in the general population to allow elite programs to go forward. We also emphasized the fact that there are often differences within the elite that open up space for some debate and even occasional (but very rare) attacks on the intent, as well as the tactical means of achieving elite ends.

Although the propaganda model was generally well received on the Left, some complained of an allegedly pessimistic thrust and implication of hopeless odds to be overcome. A closely related objection was its inapplicability to local conflicts where the possibility of effective resistance was greater. But the propaganda model does not suggest that local and even larger victories are impossible, especially where the elites are divided or have limited interest in an issue. For example, coverage of issues like gun control, school prayer, and abortion rights may well receive more varied treatment than, say, global trade, taxation, and economic policy. Moreover, well organized campaigns by labor, human rights, or environmental organizations fighting against abusive local businesses can sometimes elicit positive media coverage. In fact, we would like to think that the propaganda model even suggests where and how activists can best deploy their efforts to influence mainstream media coverage of issues.

The model does suggest that the mainstream media, as elite institutions, commonly frame news and allow debate only within the parameters of elite interests; and that where the elite is really concerned and unified, and/or where ordinary citizens are not aware of their own stake in an issue or are immobilized by effective propaganda, the media will serve elite interests uncompromisingly.

Mainstream Liberal and Academic "Left" Critiques
Many liberals and a number of academic media analysts of the left did not like the propaganda model. Some of them found repugnant a wholesale condemnation of a system in which they played a respected role; for them it is a basically sound system, its inequalities of access regrettable but tolerable, its pluralism and competition effectively responding to consumer demands. In the postmodernist mode, global analyses and global solutions are rejected and derided; individual struggles and small victories are stressed, even by nominally leftist thinkers.

Many of the critiques displayed barely-concealed anger; and in most the propaganda model was dismissed with a few superficial cliches (conspiratorial, simplistic, etc.) without minimal presentation of the model or subjecting it to the test of evidence. Let me discuss briefly some of the main criticisms.

Conspiracy theory. We explained in Manufacturing Consent that critical analyses like ours would inevitably elicit cries of conspiracy theory, and in a futile effort to prevent this we devoted several pages of the Preface to showing that the propaganda model is best described as a "guided market system," and explicitly rejecting conspiracy. Mainstream critics still could not abandon the charge, partly because they knew that falsely accusing a radical critique of conspiracy theory would not cost them anything and partly because of their superficial assumption that since the media comprise thousands of "independent" journalists and companies any finding that they follow a "party line" serving the state must rest on an assumed conspiracy. (In fact it can result from a widespread gullible acceptance of official handouts, common internalized beliefs, fear of reprisal for critical analysis, etc.). The propaganda model explains media behavior and performance in structural terms, and intent is an unmeasurable red herring. All we know is that the media and journalists mislead in tandem -- some no doubt internalize a propaganda line as true, some may know it is false, but the point is unknowable and irrelevant.

Failure to take account of media professionalism and objectivity. Communications professor Dan Hallin argued that we failed to take account of the maturing of journalist professionalism, which he claimed to be "central to understanding how the media operate." (Keeping America On Top of the World, 13) Hallin also stated that in protecting and rehabilitating the public sphere "professionalism is surely part of the answer."(4)

But professionalism and objectivity rules are fuzzy, flexible, and superficial manifestations of deeper power and control relationships. Professionalism arose in journalism in the years when the newspaper business was becoming less competitive and more dependent on advertising. Professionalism was not an antagonistic movement by the workers against the press owners, but was actively encouraged by many of the latter. It gave a badge of legitimacy to journalism, ostensibly assuring readers that the news would not be influenced by the biases of owners, advertisers, or the journalists themselves. In certain circumstances it has provided a degree of autonomy, but professionalism has also internalized some of the commercial values that media owners hold most dear, like relying on inexpensive official sources as the credible news source. As Ben Bagdikian has noted, professionalism has made journalists oblivious to the compromises with authority they are constantly making. Even Hallin acknowledges that professional journalism can allow something close to complete government control via sourcing domination.

While Hallin claimed that the propaganda model cannot explain the case of media coverage of the Central American wars of the 1980s, where there was considerable domestic hostility to the Reagan policies, in fact the propaganda model works extremely well there, whereas Hallin's focus on "professionalism" fails abysmally. Hallin acknowledged that "the administration was able more often than not to prevail in the battle to determine the dominant frame of television coverage," (64) "the broad patterns in the framing of the story can be accounted for almost entirely by the evolution of policy and elite debate in Washington," (74) and "coherent statements of alternative visions of the world order and U.S. policy rarely appeared in the news."(77) This is exactly what the propaganda model would forecast. And if, as Hallin contended, a majority of the public opposed the elite view, what kind of "professionalism" allows a virtually complete suppression of the issues as the majority perceives them?

Hallin mentions a "nascent alternative perspective" in reporting on El Salvador -- a "human rights" framework -- that "never caught hold." The propaganda model can explain why it never took hold; Hallin does not. With 700 journalists present at the Salvadoran election of 1982, allegedly "often skeptical" of election integrity, (72) why did it yield a "public relations victory" for the administration and a major falsification of reality (as described in Manufacturing Consent)? Hallin did not explain this. He never mentioned the Office of Public Diplomacy or the firing of reporter Raymond Bonner and the work of the flak machines. He never explained the failure of the media to report even a tiny fraction of the crimes of the contras in Nicaragua and the death machines of El Salvador and Guatemala, in contrast with their inflation of Sandinista misdeeds and double standard in reporting on the Nicaraguan election of 1984. Given the elite divisions and public hostility to the Reagan policy, media subservience was phenomenal and arguably exceeded that which the propaganda model might have anticipated.2

Failure to explain continued opposition and resistance. Both Hallin and historian Walter LaFeber (in a review in theNew York Times) pointed to the continued opposition to Reagan's Central America policy as somehow incompatible with the model. These critics failed to comprehend that the propaganda model is about how the media work, not how effective they are. By the logic of this form of criticism, as many Soviet citizens did not swallow the lines put forward by Pravda, this demonstrates that Pravda was not serving a state propaganda function.

Propaganda model too mechanical, functionalist, ignores existence of space, contestation, and interaction. This set of criticisms is at the heart of the negative reactions of the serious left-of-center media analysts such as Philip Schlesinger, James Curran, Peter Golding, Graham Murdoch, and John Eldridge, as well as of Dan Hallin. Of these critics, only Schlesinger both summarizes the elements of our model and discusses our evidence. He acknowledges that the case studies make telling points, but in the end he finds ours "a highly deterministic vision of how the media operate coupled with a straightforward functionalist conception of ideology" (Media, Culture and Society, 1989). Specifically, we failed to explain the weights to be given our five filters; we did not allow for external influences, nor did we offer a "thoroughgoing analysis of the ways in which economic dynamics operate to structure both the range and form of press presentations" (quoting Graham Murdoch); and while putting forward "a powerful effects model" we admit that the system is not all-powerful, which calls into question our determinism.

The criticism of the propaganda model for being deterministic ignores several important considerations. Any model involves deterministic elements, so that this is a straw person unless the critics also show that the system is not logically consistent, operates on false premises, or that the predictive power of the determining variables is poor.The critics often acknowledge that the case studies we present are powerful, but they do not show where the alleged determinism leads to error nor do they offer or point to alternative models that would do a better job.3

The propaganda model is dealing with extraordinarily complex sets of events, and only claims to offer a broad framework of analysis that requires modification depending on many local and special factors, and may be entirely inapplicable in some cases. But if it offers insight in numerous important cases that have large effects and cumulative ideological force, it is defensible unless a better model is provided. Usually the critics wisely stick to generalities and offer no critical detail or alternative model; when they do provide alternatives, the results are not impressive.4

The criticism of the propaganda model for functionalism is also dubious and the critics sometimes seem to call for more functionalism. The model does describe a system in which the media serve the elite, but by complex processes incorporated into the model as means whereby the powerful protect their interests naturally and without overt conspiracy. This would seem one of the propaganda model's merits; it shows a dynamic and self-protecting system in operation. The same corporate community that influences the media through its power as owner, dominant funder (advertising), and a major news source also underwrites Accuracy in Media and the American Enterprise Institute to influence the media through harassment and the provision of "sound" experts. Critics of propaganda model functionalism like Eldridge and Schlesinger contradictorily point to the merit of analyses that focus on "how sources organize media strategies" to achieve their ends. Apparently it is admirable to analyze micro corporate strategies to influence the media, but to focus on global corporate efforts to influence the media -- along with the complementary effects of thousands of local strategies -- is illegitimate functionalism!

It is also untrue that the propaganda model implies no constraints on media owners/managers. We spell out the conditions affecting when the media will be relatively open or closed -- mainly disagreements among the elite and the extent to which other groups in society are interested in, informed about, and organized to fight about issues. But the propaganda model does start from the premise that a critical political economy will put front and center the analysis of the locus of media control and the mechanisms by which the powerful are able to dominate the flow of messages and limit the space of contesting parties. The limits on their power are certainly important, but why should they get first place, except as a means of minimizing the power of the dominant interests, inflating the elements of contestation, and pretending that the marginalized have more strength than they really possess?

Enhanced Relevance of the Propaganda Model
The dramatic changes in the economy, communications industries, and politics over the past decade have tended to enhance the applicability of the propaganda model. The first two filters -- ownership and advertising -- have become ever more important. The decline of public broadcasting, the increase in corporate power and global reach, and the mergers and centralization of the media, have made bottom line considerations more controlling. The competition for serving advertisers has become more intense. Newsrooms have been more thoroughly incorporated into transnational corporate empires, with shrunken resources and even less management enthusiasm for investigative journalism that would challenge the structure of power. In short, the professional autonomy of journalists has been reduced.

Some argue that the Internet and the new communication technologies are breaking the corporate stranglehold on journalism and opening an unprecedented era of interactive democratic media. There is no evidence to support this view as regards journalism and mass communication. In fact, one could argue that the new technologies are exacerbating the problem. They permit media firms to shrink staff while achieving greater outputs and they make possible global distribution systems, thus reducing the number of media entities. Although the new technologies have great potential for democratic communication, left to the market there is little reason to expect the Internet to serve democratic ends.

The third and fourth filters -- sourcing and flak -- have also strengthened as mechanisms of elite influence. A reduction in the resources devoted to journalism means that those who subsidize the media by providing sources for copy gain greater leverage. Moreover, work by people like Alex Carey, John Stauber, and Sheldon Rampton has helped us see how the public relations industry has been able to manipulate press coverage of issues on behalf of corporate America. The PR industry understands how to use journalistic conventions to serve its own ends. Studies of news sources reveal that a significant proportion of news originates in the PR industry. There are, by one conservative count, 20,000 more PR agents working to doctor the news today than there are journalists writing it.

The fifth filter -- anticommunist ideology -- is possibly weakened by the collapse of the Soviet Union and global socialism, but this is easily offset by the greater ideological force of the belief in the "miracle of the market." (Reagan) There is now an almost religious faith in the market, at least among the elite, so that regardless of evidence, markets are assumed benevolent and non-market mechanisms are suspect. When the Soviet economy stagnated in the 1980s, it was attributed to the absence of markets; when capitalist Russia disintegrated in the 1990s it was because politicians and workers were not letting markets work their magic. Journalism has internalized this ideology. Adding it to the fifth filter, in a world where the global power of market institutions makes anything other than market options seem utopian, gives us an ideological package of immense strength.

Further Applications
The propaganda model applies exceedingly well to the media's treatment of the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the subsequent Mexican crisis and meltdown of 1994-95. Once again there was a sharp split between the preferences of ordinary citizens and the elite and business community, with polls consistently showing substantial majorities opposed to NAFTA -- and to the bailout of investors in Mexican securities -- but the elite in favor. Media news coverage, selection of "experts," and opinion columns were skewed accordingly; their judgment was that the benefits of NAFTA were obvious, agreed to by all qualified authorities, and that only demagogues and "special interests" were opposed. Meg Greenfield, Washington Post Op Ed editor explained the huge imbalance in her opinion column: "On the rare occasion when columnists of the left, right, and middle are all in agreement ... I don't believe it is right to create an artificial balance where none exists." But with a majority of the public opposing NAFTA, the pro-NAFTA unity among the pundits simply highlighted the huge elite bias of mainstream punditry. It may be worth noting that the transnational media corporations have a distinct self-interest in global trade agreements, as they are among their foremost beneficiaries.

The pro-corporate and anti-labor bias of the mainstream media was also evident in the editorial denunciations (both in the New York Times and Washington Post) of labor's attempt to influence votes on NAFTA, with no comparable criticism of corporate or governmental (U.S. and Mexican) lobbying and PR. After having touted the puny labor and environmental protective side-agreements belatedly added to NAFTA as admirable, the media then failed to follow up on their enforcement and, in fact, when labor tried to use their provisions to prevent attacks on union organization in Mexico, the press ignored the case or derided it as labor "aggression."5 With the Mexican meltdown beginning in December 1994, the media were clear that NAFTA was not to blame, and in virtual lock-step they supported the Mexican (investor) bailout, despite poll reports of massive general public opposition. Experts and media repeatedly explained that the merit of NAFTA was that it had "locked Mexico in" so that it could not resort to controls to protect itself from severe deflation. They were oblivious to the profoundly undemocratic nature of this lock-in.6

As is suggested by the treatment of NAFTA and labor's right to participate in its debates, the propaganda model applies to domestic as well as foreign issues. Labor has been under siege in the United States for the past fifteen years, but you would hardly know this from the mainstream media. The decertification of unions, use of replacement workers, and long and debilitating strikes like that involving Caterpillar were treated in a very low key, and in a notable illustration of the applicability of the propaganda model, the long Pittston miners strike was accorded much less attention than the strike of miners in the Soviet Union.7 For years the media found the evidence that the majority of ordinary citizens were doing badly in the New Economic Order to be of marginal interest; they "discovered" this issue only under the impetus of Pat Buchanan's rightwing populist outcries.

The coverage of the "drug wars" is well explained by the propaganda model.8 In the health insurance controversy of 1992-93, the media's refusal to take the single-payer option seriously, despite apparent widespread public support and the effectiveness of the system in Canada, served well the interests of the insurance and medical service complex. The uncritical media reporting and commentary on the alleged urgency of fiscal restraint and a balanced budget in the years 1992-96 fit well the business community's desire to reduce the social budget and weaken regulation, culminating in the Contract With America.9 The applicability of the propaganda model in these and other cases seems clear.

Final note
In retrospect, perhaps we should have made it clearer that the propaganda model was about media behavior and performance, with uncertain and variable effects. Maybe we should have spelled out in more detail the contesting forces both within and outside the media and the conditions under which these are likely to be influential. But we clearly made these points, and it is quite possible that nothing we could have done would have prevented our being labelled conspiracy theorists, rigid determinists, and deniers of the possibility that people can resist (even as we called for resistance).

The propaganda model still seems a very workable framework for analyzing and understanding the mainstream media -- perhaps even more so than in 1988. As noted earlier in reference to Central America, it often surpasses expectations of media subservience to government propaganda. And we are still waiting for our critics to provide a better model.

1. Noam Chomsky analyzes some of these criticisms in his Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Boston: South End Press, 1989), appendix 1.
2. For compelling documentation on this extraordinary subservience, ibid., pp. 197-261.
3. It should be noted that the case studies in Manufacturing Consent are only a small proportion of those that Chomsky and I have done which support the analysis of the propaganda model. Special mention should be made of those covering the Middle East, Central America, and terrorism. See esp. Chomsky's Necessary Illusions, The Fateful Triangle (London: Pluto Press, 1983), and Pirates & Emperors (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1987), and my The Real Terror Network (Boston: South End, 1982), and (with Gerry O'Sullivan) The Terrorism Industry (New York: Pantheon, 1989).
4. In fact, the only attempt to offer an alternative model was by Nicholas Lemann in the New Republic. For an analysis of this effort, see Chomsky's Necessary Illusions, pp. 145-148.
5. For a discussion see Edward Herman, "Labor Aggression in Mexico," Lies of Our Times (December 1994): 6-7.
6. For discussions of the media treatment of NAFTA and the Mexican meltdown, see Thea Lee, "False Prophets: The Selling of NAFRA," Economic Policy Institute, 1995; Edward Herman, "Mexican Meltdown: NAFTA and the Propaganda System," Z Magazine (September 1995).
7. "Lost in the Margins: Labor and the Media,! EXTRA! (Summer 1990).
8. See Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy (London: Verso, 1991), pp. 114-121.
9. "Health Care Reform: Not Journalistically Viable," EXTRA! (July-August 1993); John Canham-Clyne, "When Both Sides' aren't enough: The Restricted Debate over Health Care Reform," EXTRA! (January-February 1994).

Sep 12, 2015

Cognitivism and Behaviourism

Is cognitivism and behaviourism two different world views or do they explain the same phenomena from different lenses?
This paper attempts to highlight points where the cognitivist and behaviouristic paradigms converge and diverge from a learning, education technology and instructional design point of view. In discussing this, the author is wondering whether these two paradigms offer entirely different world views in explaining the discussed concepts or do they attempt to explain the same phenomena from different lenses.
Ertmer & Newby (1993) cites empiricism and rationalism as two opposing positions on the origins of knowledge that has shaped many of the learning theories during the first half of the century. Empiricism “takes the view that experience is the primary sources of knowledge” while rationalism “takes the view that knowledge derives from reason without the aid of the senses” (Schunk, 1991 as quoted in Ertmer & Newby). The influences of these epistemologies are seen within the paradigms under discussion.
The most basic difference between cognitivist and behaviourism would be that the latter claims the creation of observable changes in behaviour (Mergel, 1998) as the cornerstone in learning, and education technology and instructional design is used to support this notion. Cognitivism focuses on the learner’s mind (Mergel, 1998) in explaining learning, and educational technology and instructional design is used to strengthen this association. Cognitivists attempt to build mental models through representation and behaviourist focus on the stimulus response process in the classical condition perspective and the use of an antecedent, operant and consequences through a process of reinforcements in the operant condition process. Do these differences make these viewpoints entirely different paradigms/different world views or are they really trying to focus on different parts of a common process?
The following sections will attempt to take a closer look at some of the concepts associated with learning, education technology and design in unfolding this question.
Learning has been defined in various ways, but universal agreement of any single definition does not exist (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). This is mainly due to the fact that different paradigms define learning through their own perspectives. In understanding learning more closely, concepts such as how learning occur, factors that influence learning, feedback process, the role of memory, the concept of knowledge, the view of an expert, is discussed below.
In terms of how learning occur, the cognitivist stresses the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures as important parameters of learning which is closer to the rationalist epistemology (Ertmer & Newby , 1993). It focuses on the conceptualization process and addresses issues of how information is received, organized, retrieved by the mind (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). Gardner (1987) highlights how symbols, rules and images are represented between input and output action for learning to take effect. The emphasis is not so much about what learners do but how they acquire, organize and retrieve information (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). As for the behaviouristic perspective, learning occurs with the changes in the form (law of effect, Skinner 1954) and frequency (through reinforcements, Skinner, 1954) of observable behaviour. Learning is accomplished when a proper response is demonstrated to a specific stimulus (Ertmer & Newby , 1993)  in the case of classical conditioning and voluntary behaviour shown through the interaction of an antecedent , operant and a consequence for the operant conditioning principles.(Wise, 2010). No attempt is made to determine the structure and the mental process associated with it.  (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). If one considers the input, process and the output of events, the cognitivist focus mainly on the process that takes place (in the mind) while the behaviourist emphasises on the output and the input components and treating the process as a black box.  This may be considered as the main difference, a point of divergence between the two paradigms. This may suggest that behaviourism would have a tendency to ignore the existence of the mind, conciseness or even deny the active participation of the learner in the process, but it is a false characterisation. Behaviourist following Skinner’s view “do not deny the notion of consciousness, mind” and accepts it as “private events but has a problem in stating that mental activity causes behavioural activity” (Quoted by Wise, 2010). The above discussion does not suggest that these two learning theories are entirely different world views but it seems like an attempt to explain different parts of the input, process and the output model in the context of how learning takes place. With regard to this assertion, the author would state that the two paradigms would converge with the intention it attempts to explain different components of a common learning process. 
In terms of which factors influence learning, behaviourists claim that “environmental conditions receive the greatest emphasis. The most critical factor is the arrangement of stimuli and consequences within the environment” whereas cognitivism “emphasizes the role that the environment plays in facilitating learning” (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). The divergent point would be the treatment of the environment as a focal starting point under behaviourism while considering it as a facilitator in the cognitive movement. But the fact that both pays attention to the environment and the context in different degrees, could this be treated as an opportunity for these views to converge considering the environment as a common incubator for learning to take shape?
The emphasis placed by feedback, Ertmer and Newby (1993, page 60) states that “Many of the instructional strategies advocated and utilized by cognitivists are also emphasized by behaviourist, yet used for different reasons. An obvious commonalty is the use of feedback – behaviourist use feedback (reinforcement) to modify behaviour in the desired direction while cognitivist make use of feedback (knowledge of results) to guide and support accurate mental connections”. However, Wise (2010) states that “I would add that a behaviourist justification relates to the need for the learner to associate the reinforcement with the operation they performed, whereas a cognitive justification refers to the efficiency of giving feedback while the problem/attempted solution path is still in the working memory of the learner. From a behaviourist position, if the feedback isn’t immediate, it is useless; but from a cognitive position, it is just less efficient”. (Wise, response to a statement made by the online moderator of the class online discussion, week6). This sounds like an efficiency verses an effectiveness argument with regard to the use of feedback by both paradigms. The author would like to claim that this is an attempt to explain the phenomena of feedback from different points of view than presenting feedback as an entirely different process.
A key difference between the two views would be the concept of memory. Behaviourist “typically does not address the concept of memory although acquisition habits are discussed and  little attention is given how these habits are stored and recalled” while memory is given a prominent role in cognitivism since “ learning results when information is stored in  memory in an organized and a meaningful way”. (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). This does not highlight that memory is disregarded by the behaviourists but this concept is not addressed. A point that relates to this would be the concept of knowledge. Knowledge in the behaviourist perspective is a “repertoire of behaviours” while in cognitive perspective it is related to as “mental models of the world with abstract representations such as, schemas/scripts” (Wise, 2010, Classroom Material). In this context, is knowledge something that one acquires or is it something that relates to “legitimate peripheral participation”? (Safard, 1998). It is clear that in the cognitive paradigm, knowledge is considered to be an acquisition process since “learning is stated as an act of gaining knowledge”; it stresses “the individual mind and what goes on in it” (Safard, 1998). The acknowledgement of existence of the mind and memory in the cognitive domain will further provide a basis for this point of view. However, in the behaviourist realm where the repertoire of behaviours which is equated to knowledge, how could knowledge be acquired in the absence of a discussion of a mind or memory? If one uses the deductive methodology to argue this point, can the behaviourist point of view of knowledge be explained through the participation metaphor? Safard, 1998 states that “the participation metaphor does not relate to knowledge, concepts but introduced a noun as knowing which indicates action”. Therefore can we dismiss the participation metaphor and claim acquisition? Safard, 1998 goes on to state that
“One may oppose the classification of learning theories as purely acquisitional or participational. The act of acquisition is often equivalent to the act of becoming a participant. It would be a difficult argument to consider these as separate or mutually exclusive. Theories can be classified as acquisition oriented or participation oriented only if they disclose a clear preference for one metaphorical ingredient over the other”.
So in this context, while it is clear that the cognitivist paradigm relates more to acquisition, the behaviourist paradigm cannot be clearly classified as acquisition or participation, then they can converge or diverge depending on the strength of each case.  
As for the concept of an expert, to achieve the state of being an expert, one needs to move from a lower level to a higher level performer in a given field, profession (Wise, 2010,). The National Research council (2000) presented six principles that would differentiate a novice from an expert. These reflect on knowledge acquired and seem to suggest expertise from a more cognitive view. If we relate to an expert from a behavioural perspective, an expert could be one who does something with fewer errors, does it faster meeting the benchmarks, ability to discriminate between effective and efficient actions (EDUC932, Class Discussion). If we consider this, expertise could be viewed from a behaviourist perspective since an expert could also build complex behaviours. Thus, the notion of expertise would be common to both cognitivist and behaviourist although it is built differently.
Reviewing the facts so far that converge and diverge the two paradigms for a learning point of view, it seem to suggest that both cognitivism and behaviorism has attempted to explain learning from different lenses rather than pronouncing to be extremely divergent world views that explain learning.
Education Technology
Saettler (1990) states that it is difficult to pin down to one definition of what education technology is, since it is intertwined with various historical, philosophical and psychological perspectives. He highlights several paradigms of education technology. They are namely the physical science or media approach to technology which identifies educational technology with media that aid instruction. The communications approach to technology, “focus shifts to the entire process of communicating information from the source to the receiver from mere media” (Saettler, 1990).
In further looking at education technology through any of the above paradigms of technology, one can draw on differences of how education technology is used both in cognitive and behaviourist realms.
Anderson et, al (1995) highlights how cognitivist could use media such as computers in building cognitive tutors using principles such as production rules, communicating goal structures, problem solving, maximising working memory, providing immediate feedback on errors etc. (8 Principles of building cognitive tutors). The whole focus of using media in the cognitive movement is to allow students to assimilate knowledge by creating representations to acquire and internalizing knowledge through the provision of feedback.
Skinner (1954) also advocated the use of teaching machines to support learning using behaviouristic principles. The argument to use such media in this movement would be to manage the sheer numbers of contingencies of reinforcement used to shape as well as to strengthen the observable behaviours created through stimuli. Keller’s(1968) principles which represents behaviouristic learning concepts presented using computer based media (Math Emporium) is another example of how computers as media could be used to “develop a skilful program which moves forward a series of progressive approximations to a final complex behaviour” (Skinner, 1954). The emphasis on shaping or successive approximations to achieve desired behaviours (Case & Bereiter,1984) was the focus in using media which contrasted from the cognitivist use of media to provide clear information, thoughtful practice and informative feedback (Reighluth, 1999) to support learning.
It is clear that behaviourist and cognitivist application of technology is somewhat different. However, this difference is not on the way they believe how it would impact learning but on how it is applied to the different input, process and output stages of the learning process. So are these differences significantly divergent or is it more about an application to different parts of the same equation?
Instructional design theory “offers explicit guidance on how to better help people learn, develop, a knowledge base that guides educational practice” (Reigeluth, 1999). Perkins as quoted in Reigeluth, 1999, highlights “theory one”, guidelines of what instruction should be to foster cognitive learning. Perkins state that a good instructional design theory in the cognitive realm should provide “clear information” about the goals, expected performance of instruction, include “thoughtful practice” to provide a learner to engage actively in the learning process, “informative feedback” to provide “thorough counsel to learners about their performance” and “strong intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to learners”.
In contrast to the above, Case & Bereiter (1984) highlights behaviouristic design guidelines to start with “identifying the potential reinforces”, “identify the desired behaviours ”, “describe the initiate behaviour of the learner”, “define the series of behaviours”, “move students through a sequence” and “reinforce behaviours”.
A closer look at the above will highlight some points of convergence and divergence between the cognitive and behaviouristic instructional design practice. Both paradigms highlight objectives of instruction, but the behaviourist highlight what the “person does” than what a cognitivist would highlight what a “person achieves” (Case & Bereiter, 1984). The behaviourist emphasize “on a sequence of activities leading to the final outcome where each successive behaviour representing a small modification of the preceding one” (Case & Bereiter, 1984). Gegne (1984) is suggesting a hierarchical task analysis which states that “a higher order intellectual skill is based on lower level skills” (on an on) seem to suggest a parallel with the behaviourist realm. Although Gegne states that this process is not linear in the cognitive realm, the fact of a progression seems to be an idea that both cognitivists and behaviourists could share in the instructional design process. Also the work of Gegne (1984) in introducing cognitive behaviourism as a solution to overcome the weakness of some of the principles of behaviourism in instructional design theory is another example of how these two paradigms could be used together in instructional design theories.
Also for the purpose of comparison on a more micro level of instruction, setting learning objectives in both realms are compared and contrasted in this section. In setting learning objectives, both in the behaviouristic and in the cognitive realms “refer to the learning outcome and not the process of getting there” and the “objective refers to the student and not the instructor”. However, behavioural objectives tend to be more “observable and specific” and “pre-requisite and successive criteria would be more clear and specific” than cognitive objectives.   (Quoted by Wise, 2010). Also cognitive and behavioural objectives set at the lower level tend not to be that different while at the higher levels, setting them for these realms tends to have varying levels of difficulties (Class Discussion, week 6). The author is raising the question whether both cognitive and behaviourist objectives could be combined in designing a given instructional activity?
Once again while the differences between both the cognitive and the behaviouristic realms are evident in instructional designing theory, are these differences significant enough for these two approaches to be categorised as two different paradigms?
As stated in the introduction, the objective of this paper was an attempt to highlight how both cognitivist and behaviouristic paradigms converge and diverge in the areas of learning, education technology and in instructional design. There were situations that some differences were highlighted and also some situations where these realms found common ground to some degree. In articulating this view, the main question that the author raised was whether both cognitivism and behaviourism are different world views/paradigms or do they attempt to explain the same phenomena from different lenses? It was the attempt of the author to argue supporting the assertion that both cognitivism and behaviourism attempts to explain the input, process and the output elements that is associated with the human learning process from different angles using different language, than presenting themselves as two different world views as painted in some literature. Neither of these views will truly converge nor will be considered as divergent since it explains different parts of the same process. Wouldn’t it be beneficial if these views are used to explain learning, technology and the design from a more wholistic point of view than merely compare and contrast them which will explain two sides of the same coin anyway?
Anderson, J., Corbett, A. T., Koedinger, K. R., & Pelletier, R. (1995). Cognitive tutors: Lessons learned. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 4(2), 167-207
Case, R., and Bereiter, C. (1984). From behaviourism to cognitive behaviourism to cognitive development: Steps in the evolution of instructional design. Instructional Science, 13, 141-158.
Cook, S. & Brown, J. S. (1999) Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational knowing. Organization Science, 10(4)381-400.
Edmonds, G. S., Branch, R. C., & Mukherjee, P. (1994). A conceptual framework for comparing instructional design models. ETR&D 42(4), 55-72.
Ertmer & Newby. (1993), Behaviourism, cognitivism, constructivism: comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, V6 (4)
Gardner (1987). The mind’s new science: A history of the cognitive revolution. USA: Basic Books. Chp 2.
Keller (1968). Good-bye Teacher…, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 1, 79-89.
Löwgren & Stolterman (2004). Thoughtful Interaction Design: A design perspective on information technology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. (Preface & Introduction)
Molenda, M. (1997). Historical and philosophical foundations of instructional design: A North American view. In R. Tennyson, Schott, F., Seel, N., and Dijkstra, S. (Eds.) Instructional design: International perspectives (pp. 41- 53). NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
 National Research Council (2000). How people learn: brain, mind experience and school. Washington, DC. National Academy Press. Ch 2.
Reigeluth, C. (1999). What is instructional-design theory and how is it changing? In C. Reigeluth (Ed) Instructional-design theories and models, Volume II. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Saettler, P (1990), The evolution of American educational technology, Information Age Publishing, 1990
Safard, A. (1998) On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4-13.
Skinner, B.F. (1954). The science of learning and the art of teaching. Harvard Educational Review, 24(1), 86-97.
Wise, A (2010), EDUC932, Class notes, PowerPoint Presentations and Discussion Points

Sep 1, 2015

Dreamer Meets Revolutionary

Dreamer Meets Revolutionary
Raza Naeem pays homage to the man he calls “Pakistan’s Gramsci”, the writer Syed Sibte Hasan

From the Journal The Friday Times. For original click on the link

Dreamer meets revolutionary
Among friends - Sibte Hasan, Dr M. Sarwar and Faiz Ahmed Faiz

31 July marked the 99th birth anniversary of the pioneer of the Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA) in undivided India and of the Communist Party in Pakistan – Sibte Hasan. Like Antonio Gramsci, the Italian thinker and activist, Hasan endured repeated jail terms, first during his sojourn in the US, and then in Pakistan in 1951–55 and again during the Ayub regime. Both thinkers chose to write in their native language: Italian for Gramsci and Urdu for Hasan. Both Gramsci and Hasan were concerned with producing organic and original theories, applying Marxist concepts to their material realities rather than the other way round. Chances are that Pakistan’s younger breed of comrades knows their Gramsci, but not their Sibte Hasan.
Despite Sibte Hasan’s iconic stature in the Subcontinent, very little is known about him: neither he nor some of his closest comrades, such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, wrote anything about him. Sibte Hasan was born in Azamgarh, India, in 1916 and graduated from Aligarh Muslim University. He embarked on a distinguished journalistic career, serving the Pioneer (Lucknow), National Herald (Allahabad) and the Bombay Chronicle besides the Urdu daily Payam of Hyderabad, Deccan. He was also the editor of the renowned literary journal Naya Adab and the Lahore weekly Lail-o-Nahar. His initiation into socialism began while he was a student. In his preface to Moosa se Marx Tak, which has for decades served as the bible of Marxism for thousands of left-wing activists in the Subcontinent, he admits: “I learnt the first principles of socialism from the prominent revolutionary historian the late Dr Muhammad Ashraf. Those were the days when the English were dominant in the country and the entry of socialist literature was totally prohibited.”
Sibte Hasan, the dreamer
Sibte Hasan, the dreamer
In 1951, along with other comrades, he was arrested in the trumped-up Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case and remained in prison until 1955. He was rearrested after Ayub Khan assumed power. After his release, he worked for a time with Ferozsons, later moving to the Eastern Federal Insurance Company as director in charge of publications and publicity. This gave him the time and opportunity to devote his energies to writing. Owing to his significant works in Urdu – Moosa se Marx Tak (From Moses to Marx),Adab aur Roshan Khayali (Literature and Enlightenment), Pakistan main Tehzeeb ka Irtiqa (The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan), Inqilab-e-Iran (The Iranian Revolution) and his sole English work, The Battle of Ideas in Pakistan, Hasan became a pre-eminent popular intellectual associated with progressive and secular ideas in Pakistan.
Earlier in April this year, while on a visit to Karachi, I accompanied a comrade to meet Naushaba Zuberi, Sibte Hasan’s daughter, in an attempt to piece together the latter’s life in the city he made his permanent home. Sibte sahib changed many homes throughout his life, but never owned one. Then, in 1975, his daughter and her husband built a house in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and asked Sibte sahib to stay with them. He spent 11 years here and, as per his request, the house had no partitions or boundary walls in order that his grandchildren might come and go freely. He lived in two rooms: one for studying and the other a bedroom, and tended to his mehndi and haar singhar plants in the garden. As a rule, he refrained from accepting dinner invitations and would only make an exception for someone’s wedding or to call upon a sick comrade in Landhi or Korangi. Interestingly, said his daughter, given that he anticipated arrest at any time, Sibte sahib always kept a carton of milk and a packet of tea by his bedside and had instructed her to go to his friend Tariq Suhail’s house if ever he was arrested.
Pakistan’s younger breed of comrades likely know their Gramsci, but not their Sibte Hasan
After Sibte sahib’s death, Zuberi turned the house in Gushan-e-Iqbal into a library and even appointed a librarian for it. When no one came to visit, she was heartbroken and sold the house in 1988, Sibte sahib would not have approved…
Following his release from prison, Sibte Hasan wrote prodigiously. From current affairs to anthropology, and from the history of Marxism to a people’s history of Pakistan and the roots of Islamic fundamentalism and secularism in the country, he wrote in simple Urdu. During the Cold War, when most communists in the country were divided between their loyalties to either Beijing or Moscow, underground, in jail or executed, Sibte sahib was one of the few intellectuals and activists who courageously opposed military dictatorships uncompromisingly and, through his works, tried to sow the seeds of progressive thought in Pakistan, be it Marxism or secularism.
The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan, which was published exactly forty years ago, is one of his seminal works, but surprisingly ignored even by those on the left. Sibte sahib’s intent in writing the book was nothing less than what Gramsci had similarly intended for the Italian national condition in his Prison Notebooks: to ascribe a central role to culture in explaining the people’s history of Pakistan. He writes, “There is great fanfare about culture these days in Pakistan […] There is no denying that culture plays a very important role in shaping and construction of personality, but the negligence which has hitherto been shown towards cultural problems, whether these discussions would contribute to remedying it, no one can tell.”
In Sibte Hasan’s hands, the narrative of our cultural evolution becomes a history from below
Unlike Gramsci, however, Sibte Hasan spent considerable time discussing the definition of culture: “The system of meaningful creativity and social values of any society is called culture […] Therefore language, instruments and tools, methods of production and social relations, way of life, the arts, knowledge and literature, philosophy and wisdom, beliefs and magic, manners and habits, rituals and traditions, the behaviour of love and family relations, etc., are different manifestations of culture.”
From this definition, Sibte sahib moves onto the synthesizing elements of culture, which for him, form the basis for all the new and old cultures of the world. These are physical conditions, instruments and tools, systems of thought and feeling, and social values. Hasan adopts a wide panorama enveloping the ancient cultures of the Indus Valley, the Aryans, the Greek, Saka and Kushan influences, the Arabs, Turks and Iranians, and the rise and decline of Mughals before concluding with a reflection on Mughal culture in the mirror of its Western contemporary.
A number of things stand out in Hasan’s analysis. First, as mentioned before, this book came out in the mid-1970s when the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was in power and there was much debate on the definition of Pakistani culture among both the left and the right. Sibte sahib wrote about the evolution of Pakistani culture in a detached manner – one not given over to emotion but tracing a 5,000-year-old civilization in a scientific manner. In his hands, the narrative of our cultural evolution becomes a history from below, a people’s history, rather than a mere chronicle of the exploits and adventures of kings and rulers and palace intrigues.
Sibte Hasan helped found the Progressive Writers Association
Sibte Hasan helped found the Progressive Writers Association
Second, Sibte sahib’s account painstakingly establishes the fact that the Subcontinent’s history has been a history of the separation of religion and politics. For example, one of the most powerful kings of the Mameluk dynasty in Delhi, Ghias-ud-din Balban, would say openly that matters of state were subject to national convenience rather than to the laws devised by theologians. Sibte sahib writes, “It is correct that the rulers used religion for the benefit of their class and did not find anything wrong with using the services of maulvis, pundits and clerics, but they were unwilling to accept religious representatives as their masters.”
The third distinctive feature of Hasan’s work is the space he devotes to popular movements of the Subcontinent. One is the Bhakti movement, which is usually dismissed as a “Hindu” movement, but was in reality a joint movement of lower-class Hindus and Muslims. The other popular movement, which Sibte sahib treats as more than a historical footnote, is the Roshaniya movement founded by the ‘Pir-e-Roshan’ Bayazid Ansari during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar. Despite leading an egalitarian movement, says Sibte sahib, “Historians and religious scholars too have presented Pir Roshan’s character in a very biased manner and tried to prove him an infidel, heretic, dacoit and even a robber. His historical greatness should be reviewed in the light of the longstanding enmity between the Mughals and Pakhtuns. The Pakhtuns never accepted Mughal suzerainty; in fact, where and whenever they had an opportunity, they used it to rebel.”
Women, too, have their fair share in Sibte Hasan’s narrative, especially the present underdevelopment of women and the growth of brothels in the Subcontinent under the influence of Muslim notables: “Upper and middle class women were paralyzed because of purdah. Dancing and singing, which was considered a sacred prayer in Hindu society, was deemed as the forbidden tree among Muslims thanks to the cleric’s fatwas. And thereby Muslim notables began to patronize the dancing and singing establishments. This is how this sacred art became a source of entertainment for the full-bellied and for the satisfaction of lust in the cities.”
The Mughal period also comes alive in these pages and Sibte sahib gives more credit to this era for leaving a lasting influence on the region than many are willing to do. One of his great achievements in the chapter on the rise and fall of the Mughals is the way he has treated Aurangzeb, the last major Mughal emperor. Historians either usually depict him as a fundamentalist successor to the four caliphs or a cruel tyrant who showed no mercy to his own father, brothers and progeny in his quest for unlimited power. Despite being a committed secularist, Sibte sahib refuses to take sides, rather describing the man and his times as they were.
Writing about the celebrated battle of ideas between Aurangzeb and his learned free-thinker brother Dara Shikoh, he writes: “If Aurangzeb won and Dara Shikoh lost in this civil war, it was because such was the need of the times. Regarding the charge that the sharia-compliant Aurangzeb betrayed his brothers and put his aged father in prison, in the period of personalized rule, this was the norm everywhere regardless of West or East. To shed the blood of father and brothers for throne and crown was not really a new tradition and had Dara Shikoh won out, he would have treated Aurangzeb in the same manner as the latter with the former.”
One of the most crucial arguments of the book is the thesis that the chief blame for the decline of the Mughal Empire and subsequent British domination in India lay with the scientific and commercial short-sightedness of the Mughals. Very much like their Ottoman contemporaries, even as farsighted a ruler as Akbar refused to either set up the printing press or even to learn more about it, justifying this historic blunder by arguing for the inferiority of machines in relation to his calligraphers, fearing it would leave them unemployed. In a moving and lyrical passage, Sibte sahib writes, “We should search for the main reasons of the decline of Mughal culture in their self-sufficient society, which did not find the need for invention and innovation; in those instruments and tools which had not changed since centuries; in that feudal system which did not have space left for further progress; in that authoritarian personalized rule in which the authority to decide the fate of country and nation belonged to the king and the nobles, and the ruled had no right of representation at any level.”
When the book was published in 1975, forty years ago, it immediately set off a debate in South Asian Marxist circles regarding the social conditions in India before the arrival of the British, and what impact the latter’s development had on modes of production. Since this was the first time such a thesis had been presented in Urdu, it drew in eminent Pakistani intellectuals such as Safdar Mir, Muhammad Ali Siddiqi and Hamza Alavi.
2016 will be celebrated as the birth centenary of Pakistan’s greatest Marxist thinker. Throughout his life, he was respected in all circles despite his Marxist affiliations; his death was widely condoled by all shades of political opinion, including political parties and heads of state. Yet his seminal works are not widely known or taught in the so-called heartlands of Urdu or outside a tiny minority of dedicated leftists (they are certainly lapped up enthusiastically elsewhere in Pakistan, in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa). Translation would certainly play a pivotal role here for the many people who still do not have access to Sibte sahib’s work. None of the eleven books he wrote in Urdu have been translated into English to date.
At a time where demagogues and opportunists have taken up the mantle of “public intellectual” and appeal to a middle-class youth hungry for change – rather than the modest and soft-spoken man born nearly a century ago – the challenge he has thrown to us in concluding The Evolution of Culture in Pakistan still remains:
“… what will be the fate of our national culture and regional cultures in the era of this industrial culture?”
The author is a social scientist, translator and critic based in Lahore. The translations in this essay are his
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