Commodifying Compassion: Implications of Turning People and Humanitarian Causes Into Marketable Things

  • Richey, Lisa Ann (Project manager)
  • Vestergaard, Mie (Project participant)
  • Olwig, Mette Fog (Project participant)
  • Budabin, Alexandra (Project participant)

Project: Research

Project Details


Today’s marketplace is inundated with products supporting humanitarian causes that promise to give aid to beneficiaries, provide ‘good feelings’ to consumers and promote the brands of corporations and humanitarian NGOs. The commodification of humanitarianism (turning people and causes into marketable things) is thus linked to the privatization of help (replacing public donors with private philanthropy) with significant and as of yet poorly understood consequences. Commodifying Compassion will explore these dynamics in three different contexts where humanitarianism has been a realm traditionally dominated by the state (Denmark), the church (Italy) and the market (United States). The overall objective of Commodifying Compassion is to understand how ‘helping’ has become a marketable commodity and how this impacts humanitarianism symbolically and materially.
Effective start/end date01/01/201701/07/2023

Collaborative partners


  • Humanitarianism
  • Commodification
  • Private companies
  • Humanitarian organizations
  • Philanthropy
  • Consumption, Commoditisation, Aid, Humanitarianism, CSR, Ethics, North-South Relations,
  • Business
  • Brand aid