Date of Award
Major Research Paper
Master of Professional Communication (MPC)
The ethics of conventional representations of the developing world in charity fundraising and photojournalism have been increasingly questioned. Van Leeuwen‘s (2000) social semiotic model of analysis of visual racism, applied to a famine image, reveals strategies for symbolically representing otherness that perpetuate a naturalized "Western rescuer/developing world victim" narrative. Respondent interviews demonstrate that such "poverty porn" produces viewer apathy, while an alternative representation depicting self-determination evokes a charitable response. Elliott‘s (2003) ethical framework is used to judge the harm of conventional representations. The results, while tentative, suggest worth in expanding the study in light of implications for represented persons, the viewer, and Canadian society. In the meantime, image producers and distributors must become visually literate to avoid using harmful images.
Ferguson, Lisa Jean, "“Good” Evidence: A Critical Lens on Representations of Development and the Developing World" (2011). Theses and dissertations. Paper 572.