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Media, Power, and Conspicuous Charity in International Development

Sun, August 12, 8:30 to 10:10am, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Floor: Level 100, 113B


Media and digital media present a wider audience for conspicuous charity including charitable giving and charitable labor. I present an analysis of charitable endeavors using Veblen’s theorization of conspicuous consumption. I argue that though well-intentioned, many social media users’ documentation of their service in developing countries becomes exploitative in the Veblenesque sense. Users consume and produce narratives about service that positions them in spaces of power while positioning those they serve in disadvantage.