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Solidarity and Spectatorship

Solidarité et spectateurs
Lilie Chouliaraki
p. 359-372


This paper explains a change in the communicative structure of solidarity by introducing its three key dimensions: the institutional, where the author discusses the implications of the radical expansion and concomitant instrumentalisation of the aid and development field; the political, where she addresses the end of grand narratives and the ensuing rise of individualist morality as a motivation for action; and the technological, where she shows how the new media have facilitated an unprecedented explosion of public self-expression, thereby also changing the premises upon which solidarity is communicated. It is only in the light of these three dimensions, she argues, that we can begin to make sense of the shift from the objectivity of the theatre to the new emotionality of the mirror as a paradigmatic shift in the very meaning of solidarity.

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Full-text article available to subscribers or on a "pay per view" basis. It will be available on this URL in January 2020.


The instrumentalisation of humanitarianism
Solidarity without grand narratives
The technologisation of communication

First lines

“Get involved. Feeling inspired? ActionAid’s supporters experience incredible feelings of happiness, warmth and pride all the time. There’s no limit to the scale of amazing feelings you can get by getting involved. To discover what your feeling might be, take the ActionAid interactive quiz today”.

“Find your Feeling: How could Action Aid make you feel?” was a thirty-second quiz that invited us to explore what our “true feeling” towards this major humanitarian brand might be, by clicking on a number of questions: which picture moves us most, for instance? The child “next door” happily swinging away? A group of protesters in Latin America or a couple of women hugging and smiling at the camera? Depending on our choice of emotions towards these distant others, we were offered a certain self-description: we might be “warm and fluffy” or “inspired and excited”, and, having been in touch with our emotions, we were then invited to “click on the link” and “find out more about Action Aid”.


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Bibliographical reference

Lilie Chouliaraki, « Solidarity and Spectatorship », Questions de communication, 30 | 2016, 359-372.

Electronic reference

Lilie Chouliaraki, « Solidarity and Spectatorship », Questions de communication [Online], 30 | 2016, Online since 31 December 2018, connection on 22 January 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/questionsdecommunication.10816

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About the author

Lilie Chouliaraki

Department of Media and Communications
London School of Economics and Political Science

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Tous droits réservés

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