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Goldsmiths - University of London

The appearance of accountability: communication technologies and power asymmetries in humanitarian aid and disaster recovery

Madianou, Mirca; Ong, Jonathan; Longboan, Liezel and Cornelio, Jayeel. 2016. The appearance of accountability: communication technologies and power asymmetries in humanitarian aid and disaster recovery. Journal of Communication, 66(6), ISSN 0021-9916 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

New communication technologies are celebrated for their potential to improve the accountability of humanitarian agencies. The response to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 represents the most systematic implementation of ‘accountability to affected people’ initiatives. Drawing on a year-long ethnography of the Haiyan recovery and 139 interviews with humanitarian workers and affected people, the article reveals a narrow interpretation of accountability as feedback which is increasingly captured through mobile phones. We observe that the digitized collection of feedback is not fed back to disaster-affected communities, but is directed to donors as evidence of ‘impact’. Rather than improving accountability to affected people, digitized feedback mechanisms sustained humanitarianism’s power asymmetries.

Item Type: Article

Identification Number (DOI):

10.1111/jcom.12258

Keywords:

Accountability; Audit; Communication for Development; Participatory Communication; ICT4D; Disasters; Humanitarianism; Mobile Phones; Texting; SMS; Ethnography

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media and Communications

Dates:

DateEvent
1 December 2016Published
7 November 2016Published Online
28 September 2016Accepted
3 March 2016Submitted

Item ID:

19259

Date Deposited:

12 Dec 2016 12:09

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:40

URI: http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19259

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