Humanitarian Communication Through the Lens of Feminist Ethics of Care


Keywords: feminist ethics of care, communications, humanitarian work

How to Cite

Houbeish, H. (2021). Humanitarian Communication Through the Lens of Feminist Ethics of Care. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 13(1), 17–36.


Ethics are the driving force of the humanitarian field, a domain that has been governed by general and universal ethical principles. Researchers have largely focused on studying the organizational commitment to these principles, paying less attention to the role-specific ethics of this field. Moreover, researchers who consider the humanitarian field from a media studies lens have often focused on media representation, while questions about communication as practice are sidelined. In this paper, I approach humanitarian ethics with a particular focus on role morality and communication practices. With a particular focus on the role of a humanitarian communications specialist, I argue, in this paper, that the feminist ethics of care is a useful ethical framework that can guide communication specialists to better practices when they are in the field of operation. I also answer the following research questions: What are the main ethical principles that humanitarian communication specialists are expected to observe as humanitarians? Why are these principles insufficient? How might feminist ethics of care fill the gap left by current humanitarian principles and what would be the added value of this framework for practicing humanitarian communication? To answer, I ground my approach in an experiential understanding built from my personal experience as a humanitarian communications specialist. Second, I offer a literature review to highlight the common ground between humanitarian ethics and the feminist ethics of care and the added value of the feminist ethics of care why applied by humanitarian communication specialists. Third, I provide some examples of communications practices that may follow the feminist ethics of care model.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Houda Houbeish