Distance breached or distance transformed? Dilemmas of simulated and banal closeness in humanitarian communication

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Abstract

Social media have been argued to have transformed humanitarian communication and those involved in it. Networked humanitarian organizations are supposedly more open and transparent (Kanter and Fine 2010) and their “audiences” too are networked and "cause-wired" (Watson 2009), implying an unprecedented closeness (i.e., erasure of distance) between actors, institutions and causes. On the other hand, new media have been argued to contribute to a narcissistic culture (Chouliaraki 2012), beleaguered with “improper distance” (Silverstone 2006, Chouliaraki 2011). Our examination of two cases of networked humanitarianism (the global case of Kiva.org and the more local case of Kirkens Korshær) shows that networked technology does not erode distance between humanitarian actors, but rather reformats it into simulated closeness (Kiva) or banal closeness (KK), thus giving rise to several dilemmas and challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventCrossroads. Conference in Cultural Studies - Tampere, Finland
Duration: 1. Jul 20144. Jul 2014

Conference

ConferenceCrossroads. Conference in Cultural Studies
Country/TerritoryFinland
CityTampere
Period01/07/201404/07/2014

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