Celebrities: Do They Have a Role in Development?

    As the number of celebrities becoming engaged in international development appears to continue rising, it is important to address several “star-studded” issues about their engagement, particularly on the weight and breadth of their impact, two writers note on the Guardian.

    “Are some celebrities using their fame and fortune better than others? Can celebrities do any good? Do they bring new audiences to development issues? In our celebrity-obsessed culture, are famous voices now necessary to get campaigns and issues on the map? Are they crossing the line when they meet with world leaders?” write Jaz Cummins and Claire Provost of the newspaper’s “Global Development” blog.

    The two point to development economist William Easterly’s argument that celebrities who utilize their status to challenge, rather than embrace, power would be more effective than those who act as experts without challenging the status quo.

    Easterly recently wrote in the Washington Times about the “fundamental” difference between musicians-turned-activists John Lennon and Bono. This difference, he said, “underscores the sad evolution of celebrity activism in recent years.”

    >> Easterly: The ‘Sad’ Evolution of Celebrity Activism

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.