Developmental idealism is a powerful cultural model specifying what development is, describing how it can be achieved, and framing it as desirable and good. Television is a key mechanism hypothesized to spread developmental idealism messages to remote areas that have previously been isolated from the outside world. Transcending traditional barriers of language and literacy, television introduces vivid depictions of modern family and modern society. This paper uses qualitative data from Vietnam to examine the expectation that ordinary citizens have for how television will influence their lives. Examining what local residents expect from television shows how pervasive developmental idealism is and how the developmental idealism model has already permeated thinking prior to television's arrival. Rather than television introducing ideas about modern family and modern society, village residents already had these ideas.

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