HOW can WE picture YOU? - Encoding and decoding ‘African women’ in fundraising campaigns

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUMID International Master programme in applied International Development and Management

Abstract: Visual discourses on ‘African women’ in the fundraising campaigns of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) hold the potential for stereotype creation. Previous research has shown that Africans are often portrayed with deficiencies (e.g. lack of water, education and productivity). By using Stuarts Hall´s theory of encoding and decoding, which highlights the active role of the audience in interpreting media discourses, a more nuanced analysis of visual communication via NGO fundraising is made. Designed as a case study, it seeks to understand how two different groups of women, namely Southern African and German women interpret three campaigns. The thesis generates a clearer understanding of the role of fundraising campaigns in intercultural communication and the interpretive power of the audience. It shows that there is a reciprocal relationship between NGO and audience, which shapes how Africans are presented and calls, in this regard, for a rethinking of NGO practices.

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