Social change from soap operas? Kenny is referring to the research of U. Chicago Professor Emily Oster joint with Robert Jensen, which found in a rigorous study that the introduction of cable TV in rural India was associated with decreased acceptability of domestic violence, decreased preference for sons over daughters, and increased school enrollment for young children. Cable TV in India features mainly game shows and soap operas.
Similarly Eliana La Ferrara and co-authors found that soap operas reduced fertility in Brazil, a trend often associated with increased power for women. The soap operas portrayed much smaller families than what actually exists in Brazil. The research suggested the soap operas were pretty important, because parents were naming their children after the main characters on the telenovela in the year of birth.
More seriously, TV can spread health messages like hand-washing (which shot up in Ghana after a TV campaign).