DOI: 10.1177/15423166231220706 ISSN: 1542-3166

Peacebuilding and Social Change Through Soap Opera: The Two Elements of Moral Authority of ‘Team Kenya’

Stefanie Pukallus, Laura A. C. M. Brouwers
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Safety Research

Thus far, the success of soap operas in peacebuilding and their contribution to social change have been attributed to the edutainment format they usually take. The edutainment format is indeed an essential element of success, but it alone does not reveal the basis for soap operas’ influence on audiences and societies. We therefore argue that for soap operas to have a transformative peacebuilding effect, to contribute to the learning of non-violent engagement with conflict and thereby to enable social change and resilience to violent conflict within societies, they need to do more than educate and entertain: they need to acquire moral authority. This moral authority can only be derived from the combination of two elements: first, edutainment and second, civil norm building. The second element, though indispensable, has thus far not formed part of our understanding of the success of soap operas. To illustrate our argument, we take the soap opera Team Kenya which was created following the 2007–2008 post-election violence to help Kenyans overcome their ethnic-tribal identity conflicts in non-violent ways as a case study.

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