Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Micheline R. Ishay, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jack Donnelly

Third Advisor

Stephen Bronner


Advocacy, Consumerism, Frankfurt School, Human rights, NGOs, Non-governmental organizations


This dissertation traces the emergence of the global human rights movement, investigates the role of popular culture as a vehicle for mobilization, and critically examines why the movement has failed to adequately politicize its supporters in the process. Beginning in the mid-1970s, a broad shift began to take place in which ordinary people were routinely confronted with human suffering, as conflict and crisis assumed a role as ritualized news events. The public response to these phenomena demonstrated a capacity for solidarity and engagement based on cosmopolitan premises. The inception of a collective ethos of compassion, an awareness of the other based on empathy, can be considered a symptom of globalization, of a moral variety, and is a byproduct of shifting economic trends, advances in technology, and efforts toward transnational organization. Support for human rights advocacy has gained traction as a mainstream social cause and provides a set of principles with which average people mediate the world and their role in it. Yet, this transformation did not occur spontaneously, but rather was deliberately cultivated by movement architects through a series of popular culture mechanisms. However, the methods and strategies deployed to enlist the public in defense of human rights shaped the substance of their engagement. This dissertation addresses the discrepancy between the political content of advocacy campaigns and the failure of the campaigns to politicize supporters, suggesting flaws in the foundation of the human rights movement. In order to set itself on a path toward relevance and effectiveness, the movement must inculcate political engagement, maintain an alignment of principle and action, and resist the seductive features of the age of consumerism.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Joel Richard Pruce


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

235 p.


International relations, Political Science