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Celebrity Humanitarianism in the era of Social Media: An Exploratory Case Study of the UN campaign “The World Needs More...”
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Social Media has become a tool which connects distant people, but what kind of feelings does it connect? What motivates us to feel sympathy for a distant sufferer, for the tragedy of others? Moreover, what kind of discourse in social media can turn our feelings into actions, into donations, into help for those in need?

This study intends, in first instance, to explore whether social media has transformed the essence of humanitarianism. Has cosmopolitanism actually changed through the humanitarian communication of today? Or has it just brought narcissism and locked the audience into a comfortable zone? Within this context, we explore what kind of role do celebrities play when they become part of a humanitarian campaign.

This study explores the case of the United Nations campaign launched in 2013 under the name “The World Needs More______”, which through the use of celebrities such as David Guetta and Beyoncé, intended to build the connection between “how does people feel” about distant sufferers and “what can they actually do” to contribute to the cause.

Through a multimodal critical discourse analysis performed via data collected on Twitter and YouTube, together with a Mediated Discourse Analysis carried out on three videos of the campaign, we conclude that social media has brought a shift in the way of constructing the humanitarian imaginary, not only within a positive or negative frame, rather as an hybrid of both, in which positive and negative representations merge to encourage participation and engagement from the audience, although for the particular campaign under study, the use of celebrities made people act in support of the celebrities and to enhance their own social media personae rather than promoting to solve a humanitarian cause. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. , 88 p.
Keyword [en]
Humanitarianism, Humanitarian Imaginary, Spectacle of Suffering, Solidarity, Politics of Pity, Celebrities, Social Media, Distant Other
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-256595OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-256595DiVA: diva2:825897
Available from: 2015-06-25 Created: 2015-06-24 Last updated: 2015-06-25Bibliographically approved

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