Penn University to Present Paper On Role of Icons In Swachh Bharat Success at Ashoka University CSBC webinar

New Delhi : Centre for Social and Behaviour Change is conducting a webinar on Social Norms, Trendsetters and the Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Mission) in collaboration with University of Pennsylvania on 2nd October at 5 pm. Professor Cristina Bicchieri, S. J. P. Harvie Professor, University of Pennsylvania along with her colleagues will be elaborating on their recent research in identifying the role of trendsetters and change agents in the growth of India’s largest sanitation programme.


The research points towards the difference that trendsetters such as PM Narendra Modi, Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Faith Leader Chidanand Saraswatiji and the likes made towards the large scale behaviour change that was required to secure cooperation amongst the diversity of players involved to make Swachh Bharat movement a success.


PM Modi was seen sweeping the streets along with sanitation workers on various occasions. In several of his speeches, he urged people to maintain cleanliness in the public spaces.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar did a film to change the behaviour on open defecation. He managed to take the risk of doing a film and draw attention to the public health concerns posed by open defecation. Fans of Amitabh Bachchan cleaned Versova Beach when they saw him doing it. Chidanand Saraswatiji brought the other faith leaders together and encouraged them to bring a change.

Speaking about the study on Swachh Bharat Mission, Cristina Bichhieri, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Director of the Center for Social Norms and Behavioral Dynamics, said, “India did an impressive job by reporting rural toilet usage from around 38% in 2014 to over 90% in 2019. Our research found out that high-impact individuals who facilitated the growth of the mission exhibited the characteristics of trendsetters. As governments and other large organizations appreciate the role of behavioral forces in enacting social change, they may gain critical insights from the methods of the Swachh Bharat Mission, especially the tools that were adopted to achieve meaningful coordination and cooperation.”

The research also highlights the theory of social norms and explains the term trendsetters in detail. It analyses the role of individuals who were among the first to break away from well-established practices, especially since they must be willing to publicly deviate from standard practices in order to influence others to adopt new practices.

Webinar Speakers:

· Prof. Cristina Bicchieri, S. J. P. Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics programme, University of Pennsylvania

· Raj Patel, Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania

· Sakshi Ghai, Ph.D. student at the University of Cambridge and a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania

· Peter McNally, Behavioral Scientist


Webinar Link:


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