UNICEF and the Image of Children A Qualitative Content Analysis on the Portrayal of Children by UNICEF on Instagram
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With this analysis, UNICEF content on the image-based social media application Instagram was studied. The importance of correct representation in relation to the moral ambiguity of non- governmental organisations, as defined by Richard Miller, is the starting point. This led to the analysis of various theories on representation and mas audience influence in combination with the data retrieved from UNICEF’s main Instagram account. With 5.8 million followers, a renowned institution like UNICEF has considerable influence on their opinions and perceptions of others. With various concepts regarding public sphere, framing, visual communication, and responses to cultural framing from a notably intercultural audience, it can be concluded that the representation of non-western children by UNICEF is created from a predominantly western cultural perspective and ideology. The significance of these findings is the fact that it corresponds with what a western audience desires to see, hence adjusting their content towards the western audience’s liking. This is a branding strategy that encourages engagement and donations. They consequently present themselves as a western-based organisation that saves others. This hybrid form of portraying self through others, however, leads to the objectification of the other and what they represent. The conclusion is therefore that moral ambiguity has manifested itself in the lack of stereotype- breaking information in the representation of the children’s respective cultures and the similarities between theirs and the audience’s. The need to frame children according to the often-biased expectations of potential donors to be able to raise enough funding to keep operating explains how UNICEF values the collateral damage of their portrayals over the nuanced representation.