Public attitudes to welfare provision

How make the media shape public attitudes to welfare proviso?

The media is a really powerful medium that can pull strings and determine public sentiment. Research confirms that the mass media is the major beginning of information about political personal businesss and universe events ( Larsen 2013 ) and so it plays a important portion in making public sentiments and perceptual experiences sing political personal businesss. The function the province has played in supplying public assistance grew well for most of the 20Thursdaycentury. There are major arguments environing the relationships between the duties of the province and single duties. New Labour from 1997 to 2010 was much more accepting of the state’s function in public assistance proviso than its conservative predecessor and public disbursement grew well. However, the alliance authorities, with major public disbursement cuts and the desire for more involvement by non-statutory suppliers in public assistance proviso implied major alterations in province public assistance ( Bochel 2012 ) . Public sentiment seems to be in conformity with the coalition’s policies to cut down public disbursement ; this negative perceptual experience of public assistance is doubtless shaped by the mass media. Welfare is a subject that’s invariably in the intelligence nevertheless it chiefly focuses negatively on unemployment benefits and narratives of duplicity regardless of the fact that public assistance really consists of many different factors including the province pension, the NHS and instruction. As this subdivision of public assistance is so to a great extent focused on in the media, this essay will concentrate on how the media has shaped negative public perceptual experiences of hapless and unemployed public assistance receivers in contrast to the more supportive and positive media coverage of instruction and wellness.

First, it’s necessary to turn to what is the public perceptual experience of public assistance receivers as the alliance authorities applies extensive reforms. In old economic downswings the populace has responded with understanding and support for public assistance receivers nevertheless the public sentiment has dramatically changed ; in 2001 43 % thought that the authorities should pass more on public assistance benefits for the hapless, even if it leads to higher revenue enhancements ; nevertheless this figure dropped to 28 % ( Park et al 2012 ) . Sing the function of the province in the proviso of public assistance to those who are unemployed, support for the position that the authorities should be chiefly responsible has dropped to 59 % from 88 % in 2001 ( Park et al 2012 ) . It’s clear from the grounds that the public sentiment on those who are having benefits is progressively negative and it’s of import to research the mass media’s function in determining and magnifying this sentiment and how they manage to make so.

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Surveies over clip show that there is a important difference in sentiment between support for cosmopolitan services like the NHS and the instruction system and intuition towards services targeted at specific groups like unemployment benefits ( McKendrick 2008 ) . The media has played an of import function in making intuition towards those on unemployment benefits and uncertainties over their merit. This ‘benefit stigma’ is created by the media’s exaggerated portraiture of how much money is spent on unemployment benefits. There is important difference in the portraiture of public disbursement on unemployment benefits in the media and how much of the government’s money is really spent on unemployment benefits in world. Many tabloid readers, if asked assume that most of public money goes on unemployment or incapacity benefits as this is what is portrayed in the media, whereas in world, as seen in table 1, 47 % of UK benefit disbursement is used on province pensions with £74.22bn being spent a twelvemonth and occupation searchers allowance is one of the comparatively smaller benefits with £4.91bn being spent in 2011-12 ( DWP one-year study 2012 ) . However, media can mislead their audience by non categorizing the budget and so many believe more is spent on benefits than in actuality. The media creates this negative public sentiment and the myth that far more money is spent on unemployment benefits than what is true in world by categorizing their narratives. The media narratives environing pensions are focused in a more positive visible radiation in the UK in contrast to the negative portraiture of those in reception of out-of-work benefits ( Larsen 2013 ) . It’s clear that the media has a really of import function in the defining of negative and leery public sentiment of those on out of work benefits by their concentration and copiousness of negative narratives sing such receivers in contrast with the positive visible radiation they shine on other countries of public assistance proviso.

Profit disbursement in Great Britain

( £bn ) 153.60

State Pension


Housing Benefit


Income Support


Incapacity Benefit


Jobseekers Allowance


Table 1 ( DWP one-year study 2012 )

It’s non surprising that “people estimation that 34 times more benefit money is claimed fraudulently than the authorities estimation ; the public think that £24 out of every £100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently, compared with official estimations of £0.70 per £100″ ( Shah et al 2013 ) as the media exaggerates concerns about duplicity and “scrounging” . The media continues to play on biass that are already held by society and so create and reinforce stereotypes about maltreatment of the benefits system. The emphasise on narratives related to maltreatment of the system and duplicity and the eternal list of degenerative footings used in the media to depict those on benefits like “scroungers” and “loafers” creates an “us versus them” outlook among the populace. Research carried out by Larsen ( 2013 ) found that in the British newspapers they sampled, 10 % had narratives covering with benefit fraud, this is contrast to the Danish and Swedish newspapers they sampled in which they found 0 and 1 narrative severally. The stereotype of the “welfare queen” that exists in the US, depicted by media images as a typically black, individual female parent of many kids who is accused of having public assistance payments through fraud, has been found to hold an equivalent in the UK’s media every bit good. Larsen’s ( 2013 ) research found that a frequent British narrative is one of individual female parents mistreating the public assistance system to do a populating out of bring forthing kids supported by the public assistance province ; 12 such narratives were found in the UK newspapers sampled, once more in contrast to one narrative in the Danish newspapers and none found in Swedish newspapers.

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Negative public sentiment is farther fuelled by the media’s inclination to make and reenforce stereotypes environing the “underclass” and the “dependency culture” . The term “underclass” was foremost used in a Sunday Times article in 1989 and assumes the being of people, frequently over coevalss, populating in lasting poorness and are invariably dependent on the province. The most recent illustration of this representation of the “underclass” and the “culture of dependency” is that of the Channel 4 programme “Benefits Street” , which has been criticised for its deceit of the lives of those having public assistance by concentrating on the really utmost instances and showing it as the norm. The thought of “inter-generational public assistance dependency” has become a popular subject in public assistance narratives. Turn2us research workers looked at media coverage from 1995 to 2011 and found that negative diction related to dishonesty, fraud, deficiency of attempt and public assistance dependence ranged from 78 % of articles in The Sun to 36 % of articles in The Guardian ( Baumberg et al 2012 ) . It’s hence, non surprising that the populace have a misconception on the government’s outgo on benefits and positions those in reception of public assistance negatively as the media, particularly yellow journalisms, has an increasing focal point of negativeness in their articles as found in research by Turn2us.

Last, it’s of import to discourse the grounds for which the media portrays public assistance in such a negative visible radiation in the UK. The coalition’s public assistance reform and extended cuts are aimed at traveling more people into employment and have the purpose of simplifying the benefits system, doing it harder for fraud to happen. The very nature of selective benefits fuel treatment about maltreatment of the public assistance system ( Larsen 2013 ) and inquiries the “deservingness” of many receivers. In a broad public assistance government people are more likely to explicate poorness as a mistake of the individual’s indolence and the media is most decidedly act uponing public sentiment in this way.

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In decision, in a society of changeless mass media and societal media that allows us to have information immediately the public signifiers sentiments consequently, clearly influenced by what the media has to state on public assistance and what tone it takes. The populace is in changeless contact with the media and it’s clear that the media is able to show and act upon sentiments by showing, pull stringsing and excluding certain information sing public assistance in a mode that will do the public think a certain manner about it ( Yarborough 2008 ) . It seems that the public’s sentiment on public assistance is traveling in the same way as the current public assistance reforms by the Coalition authorities that there should be less public disbursement on benefits, inducements to acquire people into the labour market and less chance for fraud. It’s clear that media reflects the government’s docket at the same clip act uponing public sentiment.

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