Doing good or doing nothing? Celebrity, media and philanthropy in China

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Journal Article
Third World Quarterly, 2015, 36 (1), pp. 75 - 93
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© 2015 Southseries Inc., Based on a statistical analysis of 91 celebrity-endorsed charities in the People’s Republic of China, this paper challenges the popular assumption that celebrity involvement with not-for-profit organisations attracts extensive media coverage. Although China is the largest media market in the world, previous studies of celebrity philanthropy have been conducted almost exclusively in a Western context. Such studies argue passionately for and against the role that celebrities can play in attracting attention to humanitarian causes, focusing on the activities of Western celebrities, corporations and consumers as essential or problematic promoters and providers of aid to people in developing countries. We show that – in China, at least – most of this debate is overblown. Rather than arguing in favour of or against celebrity philanthropy, we provide statistical results suggesting that celebrity endorsement has very little impact on press coverage of charities.
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