Journal Article

The privatization of development through global communication industries: Living Proof?


Florencia Enghel, Wilkins, Karin


Development is meant to alleviate problems in the interests of the public good, yet the growing dominance of private donors problematizes this conceptualization. Working through a political-economic analysis of development, we see global communications as an industry that channels wealth from citizens into the hands of few corporate moguls, who then have the resources to assert their agendas in a global development context. We begin by conceptualizing development and social change within communication studies, paying attention to the privatization of aid within global capitalism. Next, we contextualize our case study, describing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ONE, promoted by Bono, as the funding and management settings of the Living Proof campaign. We analyze the initiative’s construction of development problems, its articulation of how communication is expected to work toward social change, and its conceptualizations of success. The dominant theme of Living Proof program is that “real people” have achieved development success, which can be shared as “proof” with website consumers. We conclude by considering how such a framing serves the agenda of privatized development within a neoliberal project.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    Media, Culture and Society, Issue 35.
  • Pages:
  • Published:
  • Language:

About the Author

Florencia Enghel

I am a Postdoctoral Researcher within the Leading Research Environment "Global Media Studies and the Politics of Mediated Communication". My research has focused on the role of communication in the practice and the project of international develop... Read more


Enghel, F. and Karin, W. (2013). The privatization of development through global communication industries: Living Proof? Media, Culture and Society, (35), pp. 165-181. Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022].