Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 6, No 1 (2012)

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The 'Me to We' Social Enterprise: Global Education as Lifestyle Brand

David Jefferess


The North American-based social enterprise Me to We has developed into one of the leading youth-oriented humanitarian agencies in Canada and provides a primary means of actualizing global citizenship within the Canadian education system. Through the annual We Day spectacles and the organization’s Schools In Action program, Me to We engages with tens of thousands of Canadian youth each year. Drawing upon the idea of a “personal” social movement and the articulation of cosmopolitanism as a “lifestyle”, Me to We is an example of, but also extends, Elise Chouliaraki’s notion of “post-humanitarian discourse.” This article provides a critique of Me to We as a “lifestyle brand” which functions as much within the discourse of humanitarianism as it does the emergent self-help industry in North America. Me to We’s social enterprise model provides a specifically neoliberal formulation of the practice of philanthropy in that it relies upon corporate-consumer affiliation not only with the “brand” but with the celebrity front men of the organization, Craig and Marc Kielburger. Despite the appeal to the collective, the pedagogical project of Me to We relies upon, and reinforces, the benevolent subject who is distinguished by their desire to transcend affluence without giving it up.

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Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices is a non-commercial initiative committed to the ethical dissemination of academic research and educational thinking. CLTP acknowledges the thoughtful dedication of authors, editors and reviewers to develop and promote this open journal initiative. The journal receives copy-editing sponsorship from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. CLTP has previously received  copy editing support from the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham, UK.