Who cares? A quantitative and qualitative multi-method study of Flemish audience’s perceptions of and reactions to mediated distant suffering.

01 January 2014 → 31 January 2019
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Stylistics and textual analysis
    • Cinematography
    • Fiction film
  • Social sciences
    • Communication management
    • Communication research methodology
    • Intercultural communication
    • International and development communication
    • Media and communication theory
    • Visual communication
    • Journalism studies
    • Cultural media
    • Digital media
    • Media audience research
    • Media discourse reception
    • Media research methodology
distant suffering news media humanitarian appeals audience research
Project description

Acknowledging the emerging presence and mediated manifestation of suffering within our contemporary society, questions arise concerning audiences' perceptions of and reactions to mediated human suffering. These questions have gained importance in a society where 'distance' is becoming increasinly relative due to processes of globalization. It is vital to discover how these processes contribute to spectators' moral and emotional attitude towards distant suffering.


This project addresses the need for more empirical studies in the field of audience research related to (distant) suffering while also taking contemporary globalization processes into account. It is the key ambition of the project to understand the interaction between and the impact that mediated representations of human suffering can have on the audience by conducting quantitative and qualitative audience-based research. Henceforth, the central research question underpinning the project is an investigation of audience perceptions, the imposed moral implications of and responses to factual representations of suffering: How do media texts affect and interact with people’s discourses, moral/emotional positions and discursive practices of media consumption related to suffering?