Introduction: Humanitarian Communication in the 21st Century

Lilie Chouliaraki, Anne Vestergaard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book introduces the core dimensions of humanitarian communication – disaster, development, human rights and war – each providing a comprehensive review of the main debates within its domain. It reviews the literature on the relationship between media and disaster and argues that, in spite of the democratizing effects of digital media, disasters remain inserted into established cultural frames of emergency, which may effectively attract international aid but simultaneously naturalize suffering and produce voiceless victims who lack moral agency. The book introduces audience research and argues for the necessity of investigating viewers’ responses to media images of human suffering and humanitarian campaigns in order to move beyond pessimistic narratives about public apathy and compassion fatigue. It explores humanitarian communication at the intersection of global market competition and social media networks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Humanitarian Communication
EditorsLilie Chouliaraki, Anne Vestergaard
Number of pages22
Place of PublicationAbingdon
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9781138230576, 9781032081212
ISBN (Electronic)9781315363493
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Published 30 September 2021.

Cite this