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'Intimacy at a distance' in humanitarian communication

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

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0163443714536077


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
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 The Authors
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2013 12:09
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 01:58

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