Commodifying COVID-19: humanitarian communication at the onset of a global pandemic

Atal, M. R. and Richey, L. A. (2021) Commodifying COVID-19: humanitarian communication at the onset of a global pandemic. New Political Science, 43(4), pp. 421-450. (doi: 10.1080/07393148.2021.1997538)

[img] Text
257692.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.



Corporations have become prominent actors in responding to COVID-19. Within the context of increasing privatization of humanitarianism and marketization of social justice, corporate marketing has played a part in the “interpretive battles” to define the global crisis of COVID-19. Understanding corporate COVID-19 communications contributes to understanding the politics of the global pandemic. This article analyzes companies’ humanitarian communications during the early phase of COVID-19 in Europe and North America to identify how their messages define COVID-19 and justified particular responses. We find that brands constructed COVID-19 as a crisis of expertise and logistics, a crisis of resources and capital, and a crisis of the self. In response to these crises, corporations provide products to “help” consumers to manage the pandemic and to manage themselves. These humanitarian narratives make the case that business has a concrete role to play in solving crises and present individual consumption as a humanitarian act.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Atal, Dr Maha Rafi
Authors: Atal, M. R., and Richey, L. A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:New Political Science
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1469-9931
Published Online:09 November 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in New Political Science 43(4): 421-450
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record