The Live Aid legacy: the developing world through British eyes

The Live Aid legacy: the developing world through British eyes

How the British see the developing world - and why it matters

Report suggesting that many British people have formed negative and inaccurate images of developing countries and that for too long, development agencies and the media have been complicit in promoting an unbalanced picture of third world doom and disaster, sacrificing the long-term building of an accurate view for the short-term gain of raising funds for or awareness of their work. The report is based on interviews with UK adults and visitors from developing countries.

The report finds that:

  • many UK consumers retain an essentially one-dimensional view of developing countries. The stereotypes are primarily driven by images of drought and famine in African countries – ‘the Live Aid Legacy’
  • while these stereotypes are not completely false, they are only part of the picture. They generate and reinforce a relationship of powerful giver and helpless recipient. This relationship pigeonholes and constrains developing countries, creating the impression of a one-way, rather than two-way relationship
  • when presented with a fuller picture, consumers can find it difficult, even challenging, to assimilate the more equitable view, and tend to look for someone to blame. In the vast majority of cases the target for their anger is the media. In a few cases, however, charities that work in the developing world are seen as the primary source of information

Report suggest that the potential benefits of breaking down the stereotypes to gain both a broader knowledge and an emotional connection are profound, and that

  • at a personal level, it opens up an opportunity to reassess individual priorities and values, and accepted cultural norms
  • at a UK level, according greater understanding and respect for cultures other than its own can only improve race relations and cultural richness
  • at a global level, it demands a necessary engagement with global politics and the impact of UK policies on developing countries

[adapted from authors]