87523 - HUMANITARIAN AND SOCIAL COMMUNICATION

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course the student will be able to critically evaluate and comprehend the different concepts and methods used in the field of social and humanitarian communication. In particular, through the use of examples and case studies, the student will become acquainted with: the complex system of relations that connects poverty, development, solidarity and the representation of sufferance; the different forms of communication employed in the media by social and humanitarian organizations, the processes of construction of social problems, the principles regulating the design of social communication campaigns, the different implications that the use of strategic tools (e.g. storytelling, celebrities, branding) have on this specific segment of communication.

Course contents

This course introduces students to humanitarian and social communication, and discusses how social problems are constructed and represented. Students are encouraged to think critically about the readings and the material provided in class. This course is meant to expand the students’ conceptual frameworks and to develop their ability to critically engage with media representations and narratives of crisis, development and social change. The course will discuss how humanitarian issues and crises have been historically publicized through the media, and examine the challenges posed to humanitarian organization by the advent of digital media.

Readings/Bibliography

WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION

Required reading:
Boltanski, L. (2000): The Legitimacy of Humanitarian Actions and their Media Representations: The Case of France. Ethical Perspectives, 7(1), pp. 3-16

WEEK 2: THE CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL PROBLEMS

Required reading:
Hilgartner, S., Bosk, C.L. (1988). The Rise and Fall of Social Problems. American Journal of Sociology, 94, pp. 53-78

Suggested reading:
Lalli, P., in collaboration with Galicic, A., & Minoia, G., (2007). Communication for development: new paradigms?. The World Congress on Communication for Development, Rome, October 25-27 2006 Published in DvdBook, Washington, World Bank, Communication Initiative,


WEEK 3: POVERTY PORN AND THE SPECTACLE OF THE SUFFERING #1

Required reading:
Chouliaraki, L., (2008). The Mediation of Suffering and the Vision of a Cosmopolitan Public. Television & New media, 9(5), pp. 371/391

Suggested reading:
Manzo, K., (2008) Imagining humanitarianism: Ngo identity and the iconography of childhood. Antipode, 40(4), pp. 632-657

WEEK 4: POVERTY PORN AND THE SPECTACLE OF THE SUFFERING #2


Required reading:
Jansen, T., (2014). Welfare Commonsense, Poverty pron and Doxosophy" Sociological Research Online, 19 (3)

Suggested reading:
Mitchell, K., (2016). Celebrity humanitarianism, transnational emotion and the rise of neoliberal citizenship. Global networks, 16(3), pp. 288-306

WEEK 5: HUMANITARIANSIM AND THE WEB 2.0.

Required reading:
Brooker, R., et al. (2015). Debating poverty porn on twitter: social media as a place for everyday socio-political talk. CHI '15 Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2015. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, U. S. A., pp. 3177-3186.

Suggested reading:
von Engelhardt, J., Jansz, J., (2014). Challenging humanitarian communication: an empirical exploration of "Kony 2012". The International Communication Gazette, p. 1-21

W6: PARTECIPATORY CULTURE IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Required reading:

Baer, H. (2016). Redoing feminism: digital activism, body politics, and neoliberalism. Feminist Media Studies, 16(1), 17-34.

Suggested reading:
Mendes, K., Ringrose, J., & Keller, J. (2018). # MeToo and the promise and pitfalls of challenging rape culture through digital feminist activism. European Journal of Women's Studies, 25(2), 236-246.


W7: DESERVING VS UNDESERVING VICTIMS: HUMANITARIANISM IN CRISIS

Required reading:
Chouliaraki, L., Stolic, T., (2017). Rethinking media responsability in the refugee crisis. A visual typology of European news. Media, Culture & Society, 39(8), PP. 1162-1177

Suggested reading:
Shildrick, T., (2018). Lessons from Grenfell: Poverty propaganda, stigma and class power. The Sociological Review Monographs, 66(4), pp. 783–798


W8: SOCIAL MARKETING, FUNDRISING, BRANDING

Required reading:
Lefebvre, R. C., (2012). Transformative Social Marketing: Co-creating the social marketing discipline and brand. Journal of Social Marketing, 2 (2), pp. 118-129

Suggested reading:
Ponte, S., Richey, L.A., & Baab, M. (2009). Bono’s Product (RED) Initiative: corporate social responsibility that solves the problems of “distant others”. Third World Quarterly, 30(2), pp. 301-318

W9: CHANGING NARRATIVES

Required reading:

Borum Chattoo, C., Feldmann, L., (2017). Storytelling for social change: leveraging documentary and comedy for public engagement in global poverty". Journal of Communication, 67(5), pp. 678-701

Suggested reading:
Lalli, P., (2012) When Communication goes with inclusion: a case analysisi on participatory experiences in the Municiapality of Bologna", in A., Jenei (ed.): Communication with the public form the local government perspective, Budapest, AdLibrum

W10: WRAP UP

No assigned reading

Teaching methods

Active learning is an important part of this course. Some days I will lecture for much of the class, however, on most days, I will expect the class to engage actively in the discussion of the readings and of the media texts that we will have the opportunity to examine together.

Assessment methods

Attending students


Class Participation .............................. 10%

Reading response journal [6 entries in total]………...... 40%

Term Paper.........................................50%

NB: Attendance is strongly encouraged and expected. For those students who will not be able to attend class specific arrangements will be made. Please come and see me during office hours.

Class participation

Students are expected to read the assigned chapters or material prior to class and participate in class discussion. Ask questions, be curious!

Reading response journal

You need to provide six journal entries. The entries should be 2 pages max in length (12 pt. font Time New Roman and 1.5 spaced - approx. 800-1000 words), and should critically engage with the readings outlined in the program.

The aim of this assignment is to provide a commentary of the key concepts raised in the papers and to encourage students to make sense of what they read, NOT to write a summary: in order to succeed students need to engage with the text, and bring their own point of view into the debate.

Students can chose any 6 papers out of both the required and suggested readings. The journal is due by the end of the Thursday lecture of the week following the reading assignment. Please provide me with a hard copy of your assignment. Missing journals will count 0. Grade penalties for late journal will also apply.

Term paper

The final paper is intended to provide students with the opportunity to fully explore their favorite topic and to examine it from a more empirical perspective. The paper should incorporate course material (textbook, lectures, and/or discussion) as well as students own opinions and reflections in order to provide a depth analysis of an example of your choice. The aim of the class is to think critically about humanitarian and social communication, as well as to reflect on how social problems are constructed and represented, so this is the opportunity for students to think through what they have learned in greater depth.

Please be aware that the final paper is not intended to be a collage of comments that other people had made about the topic of choice. Moreover, despite the importance of anyone’s own understanding/analysis of the topic, please also consider that the term paper is intended to be an academic paper, and as such students should look at the media with a scholarly eye. Students should incorporate at least four of the readings from this class (the papers previously discussed in the reading response journals DO NOT COUNT towards meeting the four papers criteria). A modest number of follow up readings could also, of course, be useful.

On a technical level, the papers should be 8 to 10 pages long, 12 pt. font Time New Roman and 1.5 spaced (approx. 4000-4500 words). I expect that papers will have a clear structure and that they will be free from basic errors.

Attending students: papers are due on the date of the exam that I will set on AlmaLaurea. You must enrol in the exam and sent me an electronic copy of your paper (via email) on that exact day. You also must provide me with a hard copy of your work (I will provide more information on the procedure that must be followed later in the semester)

Students that are not attending classes:

Term Paper.........................................50%

Written exam………………………..50%

Term paper

(See above: same indications as for students attending class apply)

Written exam

The written exam will be on all the required readings plus two suggested readings. It will be taken into account if the two suggested readings chosen for the written exam will cover readings NOT presented in the term paper.

Teaching tools

Lectures, slides, video, websites, reports, case studies

Office hours

See the website of Chiara Gius