The politics of 'looking good' whilst 'doing good': Understanding the role(s) of media in international development [Media and Development Study Group]

Florencia Enghel (Stockholm University)
Summer Common Room (Magdalen College)
Start time:
13 September, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel addresses the politics of the interplay between 'doing good' and 'looking good' in international development. Specifically, it is concerned with better understanding initiatives that combine 'communication for development' (C4D) and 'communication about development' (CAD).

Long abstract:

The role of media in international development has conventionally been understood in one of two distinct ways: either as a tool for delivering or facilitating positive social change amongst 'beneficiaries' (communication for development, or C4D) or as a means of informing or 'educating' audiences within donor countries about aid spending (communication about development, or CAD). However, recent studies suggest that donors are increasingly combining C4D and CAD in hybrid initiatives, with potentially undemocratic consequences. For example, Enghel (2014) suggests that donors perceive development-driven interventions involving communication as particularly suitable for making them 'look good' in the eyes of their own constituencies. Engel also calls for further research into such hybrid initiatives in order to determine the extent to which efforts aimed at 'looking good' are being prioritised at the expense of 'doing good'. In this context we are seeking papers which address the politics of the interplay between 'doing good' (C4D) and 'looking good' (CAD), through the following questions: • To what extent and in what forms do 'hybrid' C4D-CAD initiatives exist, at national, international and supranational scales? • How are different conceptualisations of 'the media' and its effects understood within such hybrid initiatives? • What institutional and political factors contribute to the apparent growth in projects aimed and 'looking good' and 'doing good'? • What contradictions are there between the politics of 'doing good' and of 'looking good'? • What are the potential consequences of the overlap of C4D and CAD for citizens' communication rights at both ends of the donor-recipient equation?