Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Dale Miller

Committee Member

David Earnest

Committee Member

Imtiaz Habib

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.H85 H345 2011


Humanitarian foreign aid is a controversial topic, subject to much popular debate. Although there is much available polling and survey evidence about public stances on the issue, there have been significantly fewer attempts at more in-depth analyses of the public discourse. This thesis is an attempt to explore the popular discourse on aid in more depth, including its rationales, assumptions, and values.

It concludes that both sides of the American public in the debate often make use of similar types of assumptions regarding international affairs, suggesting often deeper agreement than the debate may indicate. It is argued that the set of assumptions that both sides appeal to is problematic, and a more adequate understanding of global interactions is provided by examining first world actions and policies that harm developing countries. Acknowledging these harms helps to establish a critical view of the discourse and provides a justification for foreign aid as compensation, a view that is not traditionally dominant.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).