Star light, star might: how celebrities have become political forces in the HIV/AIDS crisis

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Authors

Herman, Vanessa

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University of Guelph

Abstract

HIV/AIDS has become a global epidemic of unparalleled proportions. Within this crisis, individuals who wield power have the ability to help or hinder containment efforts. Celebrities have become increasingly involved with HIV/AIDS issues, but the majority of political science literature discussing the involvement of celebrities tends to downplay the political power these celebrities have. This thesis examines the arguments of Francesco Alberoni and those scholars that have been influenced by his canonical work. According to Alberoni, celebrities have no political power outside of their ability to influence and motivate the masses. In this thesis, I argue that, contrary to this scholarship, celebrities have become an active and potent network of political actors. The celebrity network has participated in the crisis from positions inside and outside of institutions of power and ultimately has transformed the dynamics of the global HIV/AIDS crisis.

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Keywords

HIV/AIDS, celebrities, political power, influence, motivate, political actors

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