Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 120, Issue 4, pp 509–525 | Cite as

Mediatized Humanitarianism: Trust and Legitimacy in the Age of Suspicion

  • Anne Vestergaard


The article investigates the implications of mediatization for the legitimation strategies of humanitarian organizations. Based on a (full population) corpus of ~400 pages of brochure material from 1970 to 2007, the micro-textual processes involved in humanitarian organizations’ efforts to legitimate themselves and their moral claim were examined. A time trend analysis of the prioritization of actors in the material indicates that marked shifts in legitimation loci have taken place during the past 40 years. A discourse analysis unfolds the three dominant discourses behind these shifts, namely legitimation by accountancy, legitimation by institutionalization, and legitimation by compensation. The analysis relates these changes to a problem of trust associated with mediatization through processes of mediation.


Humanitarian communication NGOs Legitimacy Discourse analysis Mediatization Mediation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark

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