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CRITICAL SUMMARY: SOCIAL NETWORKS AND CONTRACEPTION PRACTICE OF WOMEN IN RURAL BANGLADESH Essay Example

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6Critical Summary: Social Networks and Contraception Practice of Women in Rural Bangladesh

Health Promotion and Social Aspects

University of New South Wales: School of Public Health and Community Medicine

18/08/2011

Critical Summary: Social Networks and Contraception Practice of Women in Rural Bangladesh by Gayen, K. and Raeside, R.

Article Summary

The article by Gayen and Raeside (2010) explores the impact of social networks on the use of contraceptives in rural Bangladesh. Gayen and Raeside provide a clear demonstration of how social interactions in the rural setting affect behaviour and attitude change towards the use of contraceptives and provide evidence for what needs to be done. Using the results of research conducted through interviews on women from seven villages in rural Bangladesh, they demonstrate that the use of contraceptives as a form of family planning in rural Bangladesh can be explained by the influence of perceptions and attitudes towards contraception of women central to their social networks. Using the concepts of social interaction, social networks and ideational change, the authors attempt to verify the claim that more women in rural Bangladesh are likely to use contraceptives if the women central to their social networks have positive perceptions or attitudes towards contraceptives or are actually using them.

The paper seeks to build on similar research by Kohler et al (2000, 2001, and 2002) in Kenya and Kincaid (2000) in Bangladesh and remedy a major deficiency of similar enquiries in the past which the authors cite as preoccupation with the attitudinal and a lack of examination of the structural properties of the network members. To address this, the research design collected information through questionnaire interviews to show the effect of an individual’s position within a social network and the correlation with the attitudes of other network members in relation to their use of contraception. The authors conclude that women who occupy higher positions, socioeconomic status or are more central to their social networks have a greater diffusion effect in relation to the use of contraceptives among other women.

Social Networks and Contraceptive Use

Gayen and Raeside (2010) validate the findings of previous research which indicates that social influence is the predominant variable in explaining fertility decisions in rural areas. The implications of such findings are that the most appropriate way to tackle the fertility problem in rural areas experiencing overpopulation would be to use existing social networks (Gayen and Raeside 2007). Overpopulation is due to high fertility rates or the absence of family planning is posed as an economic problem for many rural areas which subjects their residents to economic hardships. Gayen and Raeside show that classic demographic transition theories- which argue that as the social and economic conditions of people improve so will their socioeconomic status- have not adequately explained the impoverishment of women in rural areas in Bangladesh (Gayen and Raeside 2007; Kincaid 2000). By investigating the structural properties of social networks and drawing on the results of sociometric data collected they suggest that women central to social networks in rural areas hold the key to the diffusion of ideas or behavioural changes specifically the use of contraceptives in family planning.

Critical Analysis

Gayen and Raeside have presented and tested a compelling hypothesis which improves on previous research on contraceptive use in rural areas. While their research is not entirely new and confirms already tested hypotheses with their findings and conclusions not deviating significantly from those of previous research into the field by Saha (1994) and Kincaid (2000) in Bangladesh and Valente (1997) in Cameroon, they have strengthened the argument by exploring the dimension of structural properties of social networks. The main strength of this article lies in their ability to demonstrate the interconnectedness of variables such as social norms and practices, exposure to mass media, socioeconomic status and the decision to use contraceptives by constructing sociograms which provide a more accurate assessment of how women’s social networks in rural areas function. The article has also compared the effectiveness of opinion leaders and social norm setters with other sources of information such as the mass media. They argue that interpersonal communication, as structured within social networks in rural areas characterized by low literacy and low exposure to mass media, is the most likely determinant in influencing the use of contraceptives among rural based women.

Conclusion

The article provides an empirical basis for the design and implementation of evidence-based programs and policies to promote the use of contraceptives as fertility control and as a remedy for the socioeconomic disadvantage faced by women in rural areas globally. The article puts forward a coherent argument for the exploitation of social interactions in the rural context as an enabling mechanism in promoting fertility control through the use of contraceptives and enriches the literature in the field through exploration of structural properties of social networks.

References

Gayen, K., & Raeside, R. (2007). Social networks, normative influence and health delivery in rural Bangladesh. Social Science and Medicine, 65(6): 900-914.

Gayen, K., & Raeside, R. (2010). Social networks and contraception practice of women in rural Bangladesh. Social Science & Medicine 71 (9): 1584-1592.

Kincaid, D. L. (2000). Social networks, ideation, and contraceptive behavior in Bangladesh: a longitudinal analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 50 (2): 215-231.

Kohler, H.P., Behrman, J. R., Watkins, S.C. (2000) Empirical assessments of social networks, fertility and family planning programs: nonlinearities and their implications. Demographic Research 3 (7): 1-37.

Kohler, H.P., Behrman, J. R., Watkins, S.C. (2001). The density of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from South Nyanza district, Kenya. Demography 38(1):43-58.

Kohler, H.P., Behrman, J. R., Watkins, S.C. (2002).
Social networks and changes in contraceptive use over time: evidence from a longitudinal study in rural Kenya. Demography 39(4):713-38.

Saha, T. D. (1994). Community resources and reproductive behaviour in rural Bangladesh. Asia Pacific Population Journal 9(1):3-18.

Valente, T. W., Watkins, S. C. & Jato, M.N. (1997). Social network associations with contraceptive use among Cameroonian women in voluntary associations. Social Science and Medicine, 45 (5): 677-687.