The role of celebrities in mediating distant suffering

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How effective are celebrities, not just in helping to draw attention to distant suffering, but in actually regulating spectators’ mediated experiences of the lives of distant strangers? What function does the perceived authenticity of a celebrity play in their role as mediator? This article seeks to address such questions by analysing the results of an audience study involving two phases of focus groups separated by a two-month diary study. The results show that celebrities certainly help to shape our mediated experiences of distant suffering – but not always in the ways and to the extent we might expect. What is clear is that celebrities are generally ineffective in cultivating a cosmopolitan engagement with distant suffering.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-466
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Early online date8 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • authenticity
  • celebrity
  • celebrity humanitarianism
  • cosmopolitanism
  • distant suffering
  • humanitarian communication
  • mediation

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