Celebrity Advocacy and International Development: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Celebrity Advocacy and International Development

1st Edition

By Dan Brockington


234 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

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Celebrity advocacy is a curious phenomenon. It occupies a significant proportion of the public domain, but does so without engaging particularly well with much of the public. Yet this may not matter very much. Many people at the core of advocacy, and in political and business elites, simply do not notice any lack of engagement. In these circles celebrity advocacy can be remarkably effective.

Celebrity Advocacy and International Development examines the work of celebrity advocacy and lobbying in international development. Its purpose is to understand the alliances resulting, their history, consequences, wider contexts and implications. It argues that celebrity advocacy signals a new aspect of elite rule. For populist celebrity advocacy can mark, ironically, a disengagement between the public and politics, and particularly the public and civil society. Recognising this poses new challenges, but also presents new opportunities, for the development movement.

This book gives students and researchers in development studies and media studies a wealth of original empirical data, including interviews across the NGO sector, media and celebrity industries, newspaper analysis, large surveys of public opinion, and focus group research.


Dan Brockington has written a very welcome book on the promise and limits of celebrity advocacy. Methodologically rigorous, scrupulously reflexive and consistently hard-headed in an area where sentimentality and wishful thinking is all too tempting, this book sets new standards for analysis and argument for this debate.

–Nick Couldry, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Dan Brockington demonstrates how corporations, politicians and the NGO community have oriented themselves under the aura of celebrity. The bling in this work is original empirical research on how celebrities and NGOs are working in advocating for attention and funding for international development issues in post-democratic politics.

–Lisa Ann Richey, Roskilde University, Denmark

These days we hardly blink when we hear that another film or rock star takes up a new humanitarian cause. But Dan Brockington makes us stop and stare, to see celebrity advocacy as more than just another feature of show-business. This book provides a clear-eyed and penetrating look at how celebrities become involved in development issues, and the effect that they have. The detail of the analysis and the sharpness of the argument make Celebrity Advocacy and International Development a superb work.

–John Street, University of East Anglia, UK

Dan Brockington has written an important book, exploring the convoluted world of celebrity advocacy. He carefully analyses the evidence and exposes the phenomenon; and just when you think Brockington has delivered his measured conclusions, there comes a powerful 'afterword' which no-one should miss and which suddenly transforms the whole topic.

–Michael Billig, Loughborough University, UK

Sharp, clear and fully engaging, this is one of the most comprehensive and insightful accounts of celebrity advocacy that have been written so far. It will no doubt define the field for many years to come.

–Lilie Chouliaraki , London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Dan Brockington emerges from several years of intelligent, evidenced-based interrogation of the role of celebrities in international development with a genuinely insightful and surprising argument. This book will profoundly change the way we think about celebrities and development.

–Martin Scott, University of East Anglia, UK

Dan Brockington’s excellent book explores the contradictory effects of celebrity populism on international development. He utilizes post-democratic theory to conceptualize the ‘authenticity’ of the affiliations between celebrity activists, non-governmental organizations and public opinion. This is a major resource for anyone who is concerned with the democratic implications of celebrity advocacy.

–Mark Wheeler, London Metropolitan University, UK

With Celebrity Advocacy and International Development, Dan Brockington has made a valuable empirical contribution to the growing field considering the mediation of development issues. His book adds critical weight to the debate surrounding the role of a celebrity in the humanitarian and developmental sphere and is delivered in an eminently readable text that is both balanced and insightful.

–Thomas Reid, University of East Anglia, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. The Terrain of Development Advocacy 3. Celebrity Advocacy and Post-Democracy 4. A Brief History of Celebrity Advocacy for Development and Humanitarian Causes 5. The Current State of Celebrity Advocacy 6. 'Getting It' Producing Authentic Celebrity Advocacy 7. Elites and Celebrity Advocacy 8. The Witches' Pond 9. Changing the World through Celebrity Advocacy Appendix One: Methods Appendix Two: Research on Celebrity Endorsers

About the Author

Dan Brockington is Professor of Conservation and Development at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Economic Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy