Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Rhetoric and Technical Communication (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Humanities


Sue Collins


Celebrity participation in humanitarianism and politics has received a lot of attention in recent times. Though many researchers have sought to explain the reasons underlying this phenomenon, there appears to be little information as to the efficacy of these celebrity efforts. The present research thus undertakes an analysis of the celebrity's participation through a study on the effectiveness of the celebrity-led campaign. To achieve this, I conduct a discourse and visual analysis of media publications surrounding two celebrity-led campaigns. The research leans heavy on theories underlining the celebrity mechanism and Street et al's framework on celebrity participation in politics. The study confirms Street et al's argument that performance, legitimacy and organization are central to the success of the celebrity-led campaign. For campaigns aimed at initiating policy change, I propose an additional category of stakeholders' response which provides a means of evaluating efficacy. My findings show that organization, legitimization, stakeholders' response and performance are highly dependent on the actions of the lead celebrity, making these celebrities active agents in the production of discourse on the "third world". As celebrities engage in humanitarian work, they take up positions as representatives of the aid recipient. The result is the dispossession and silencing of the aid recipient. Out of my discussion of these practices evolves the concept of the celebrity burden.