TED Talks on International Development: Science Communication, ‘Digital Solutionism’ and Social Change

34 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2014 Last revised: 28 Sep 2014

See all articles by Tobias Denskus

Tobias Denskus

Malmö University

Daniel E. Esser

American University - School of International Service

Date Written: July 16, 2014

Abstract

Despite their global popularity and relevance to Communication for Development (C4D), TED talks have not yet been systematically examined from the vantage point of C4D. We offer the first theoretical and empirical investigation of both the content and structure of talks on international development by leveraging definitions of C4D as well as literature on mediatization, rituals in international relations, and online activism. Our analysis suggests that TED talks succeed in disseminating ideas and sparking public interest. At the same time, they reflect institutionalized, corporatized modes of mass communication rooted in elitist discourses and practices. Contrary to popular perceptions, we therefore conclude that while TED talks are an effective vehicle for information dissemination, they are an unlikely catalyst for social change.

Keywords: TED, Communication for Development (C4D), New Media and Social Change, Social Development, Political Economy, Globalization and the Media

JEL Classification: B50, O19, O29, O31, O33, O35, P16, Z1

Suggested Citation

Denskus, Tobias and Esser, Daniel E., TED Talks on International Development: Science Communication, ‘Digital Solutionism’ and Social Change (July 16, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2467192 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2467192

Tobias Denskus

Malmö University ( email )

Malmö
Sweden

Daniel E. Esser (Contact Author)

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States
+1 (202) 885-1892 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://danielesser.org

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