chapter  5
Rural Social Change
WithDouglas F. Barnes
Pages 29

The arguments in favor of rural electrification have often centered on its potentially powerful transformative effect on rural households. Imagine two rural households, one with electricity and the other without. Television is a potentially powerful instrument for social change, but the study results in rural Colombia suggest that some of the consequences might be negative. The critics of rural electrification consider the prospect of significant benefits to rural households unrealistic. According to them, rural electrification can benefit developing societies only through improvements in rural productivity and thus increase in rural incomes. The India and Colombia studies were designed to gain some understanding of the complex relationship between rural electrification and household income. Appliance ownership can directly affect the quality of rural life. Electric appliance use in rural households may be instrumental in changing rural energy-use patterns. Household appliances have been cited as improving women's lives in rural households; that is, labor-saving appliances can decrease the drudgery involved in household work.