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    ‘Intimacy at a distance’ in humanitarian communication

    Orgad, S. and Seu, Irene Bruna (2014) ‘Intimacy at a distance’ in humanitarian communication. Media, Culture & Society 36 (7), pp. 916-934. ISSN 0163-4437.

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    While humanitarian communication has been scrutinized by practitioners and academics, the role and meanings of intimacy at a distance in this communication have been largely overlooked. Based on analysis of 17 in-depth interviews with professionals in 10 UK-based international NGOs engaged in planning, designing and producing humanitarian communications, this article explores how intimacy figures in NGOs’ thinking about and practice of humanitarian communication. Drawing on discussions of ‘intimacy at a distance’ and the ‘intimization’ of the mediated public sphere, the analysis explores three metaphors of intimacy used by interviewees to articulate the relationships they seek to develop with and between their beneficiaries and UK audiences: (1) sitting together underneath a tree; (2) being there; and (3) going on a journey. The article situates the governance of intimacy of practitioners’ thinking and practice as NGOs’ attempt to respond to criticisms from the humanitarian and international development sector, policymakers and scholars. It concludes by calling for a revisiting of the centrality of intimacy in humanitarian communication and the logic of emotional capitalism within which it is embedded, outlining its implications for both academic scholarship and practice.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): beneficiaries, emotional capitalism, humanitarian communication, interviews, intimacy, NGO–audience relations, NGOs
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE), Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Bruna Seu
    Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2016 10:45
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:29


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