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Title: Finding a Voice Through ‘Humanitarian Technologies’? Communication Technologies and Participation in Disaster Recovery
Authors: Madianou, Mirca M.
Longboan, Liezel
Ong, Jonathan C.
First Published: 15-Sep-2015
Publisher: University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism
Citation: International Journal of Communication, 2015, 9, pp. 3020-3038
Abstract: Voice—understood as the ability to give an account of oneself and participate in social processes—is increasingly recognized as significant for humanitarian action and disaster recovery. Giving disaster-affected people the opportunity to make their voices heard has the potential to democratize humanitarianism and correct the power asymmetries on which it is based. Humanitarian agencies have embraced interactive communication technologies as tools for voice and participation. Drawing on a yearlong ethnography with communities affected by super-Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, this article assesses the potential of new communication technologies for voice. Our findings highlight a disconnect between assumptions about technology present in humanitarian policies and the actual uses of technology by affected populations. The article traces the factors that facilitate, or hinder, participation and finds that communication technologies enable voice only if other parameters, such as a strong civil society, are present. Further, we observe that opportunities for voice are stratified, mapping onto existing social inequalities.
ISSN: 1932-8036
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2015 (Mirca Madianou, Liezel Longboan, & Jonathan Corpus Ong). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives License ( ), which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Media and Communication

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