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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 19 - 2012, No. 3

Celebrities’ Quest for a Better World: Understanding Flemish Public Perceptions of Celebrities’ Societal Engagement

, , pages: 75-92

Although one of the main aims of celebrities’ societal engagement is to grab the attention of a wide audience for a social cause, research about public perceptions of the phenomenon is scarce. This study wants to gain a theoretical and empirical insight into the possible influence of celebrities’ engagements on the general population. An internet survey among a sample of one thousand Flemish adults was conducted to ascertain which celebrities are considered to support social causes and how the general population perceives this phenomenon. Results show a select group of celebrity supporters, i.e. those in a deeply engaged role or with a considerable track record of engagement, to be the most popular. While most respondents consider such celebrity engagements to make a significant contribution to social-profit organisations’ goals, scepticism about the celebrities’ motives is apparent. Young adults and celebrity news followers, traditionally less involved in social causes, demonstrate a more positive attitude towards celebrity engagement than older respondents. As such, celebrities’ societal engagement might be advantageous in reaching thus far uninterested parts of society.

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