Humanitarian Campaigns in Social Media: Network Architectures and Polymedia Events

Madianou, Mirca. 2013. Humanitarian Campaigns in Social Media: Network Architectures and Polymedia Events. Journalism Studies, 14(2), pp. 249-266. ISSN 1461-670X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Social media and social networking sites (SNS) in particular have become popular in current humanitarian campaigns. This article assesses the optimism surrounding the opportunities that SNS communication offers for humanitarian action and for the cultivation of cosmopolitan sensibilities. In order to evaluate the mediation of suffering and humanitarian causes through social media, I argue that we need to understand the architectures of social media and SNS in addition to analysing the content of the campaigns drawing on the literature on humanitarian communication. Focusing on the analysis of two humanitarian campaigns through social media, the phenomenally popular and controversial Kony 2012 campaign and WaterForward, the article observes that the architectures of SNS orientate action at a communitarian level which heightens their post-humanitarian style. However, an emerging new genre of reporting and commenting which is termed “polymedia events” can potentially extend beyond the limitations of SNS communication by opening up the space for reflexivity and dialogical imagination.

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Identification Number (DOI):


action at a distance, cosmopolitanism, humanitarian campaigns, Kony 2012 , media events, social media, social networking sites

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies
Research Office > REF2014



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Date Deposited:

23 Oct 2013 15:10

Last Modified:

16 Apr 2021 14:52

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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