This research examines how foreign aid organizations construct the hero in storytelling in videos on YouTube. The study aims to identify a Planner vs. Searcher approach in the stories of aid organizations by applying elements from narrative theory and storytelling theory to different approaches on how to solve poverty. Narrative theory and storytelling theory suggests that stories include certain characters including a hero as well as a problem and solution. This was related to the Searcher vs. Planner approach on how to solve poverty. A Planner approach focuses on external help and hence provides external solutions that should be pushed forward by external heroes. The Searcher approach, on the other hand, suggests for the locals to be the hero in their own story by following their own solutions. With a narrative analysis, the study investigates whether the hero and solution in aid organization‟s storytelling is local or external to identify a Planner or a Searcher approach. The study focuses on UNICEF and Save the Children. 50 videos per organization in the time 2010-2015 are analyzed. The analysis studied the structure and the meaning generated in this by focusing on how certain elements are defined i.e. the characters, problem and solution. These elements were categorized according to Propp‟s seven spheres of action and aid approaches. The most frequent pattern identified in 71 out of 100 videos was an external hero with an external solution which indicates a Planner approach. The second most frequent found in 18 videos was a local hero with an external solution. This also indicated a Planner approach because the focus was on an external solution. For both of these patterns, the external characters like the aid organization and donor were constructed as crucial for reaching the solution while the locals were constructed as suffering and too helpless to reach any solution by themselves. Only 6 out of 100 videos showed local heroes with local solutions. For the case of Save the Children which had 4 of these videos, the local solution had been framed as a problem. Hence, the Searcher approach which was reflected in the videos was not acknowledged. Furthermore, several elements relating to a Planner approach were identified in the videos like a strong emphasis on the donor, the aid organization‟s definition of the problem reflecting Western values and a tendency to portray the poor as suffering and helpless. Based on this, it was concluded that the stories represent a Planner approach both through small elements but also on an overall level.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Storytelling, Storytelling elements, Foreign Aid Organization Communication, Planner vs. Searcher approach, Local vs. External hero, Local vs. External solution
Thesis Advisor O. Nyirubugara, B.C.M. Kester
Persistent URL
Series Media, Culture & Society
E.M.W. Vestergaard. (2016, June 22). The hero in foreign aid communication. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from