Media representations of social class
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Media representations of social class. The Monarchy. Rare to see any criticism of the monarchy, or the individuals within it, from the mass media – according to Nairn. In other words, the media is pro-monarchy & tends to portray them in favourable ways.

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The monarchy
The Monarchy

  • Rare to see any criticism of the monarchy, or the individuals within it, from the mass media – according to Nairn.

  • In other words, the media is pro-monarchy & tends to portray them in favourable ways.

  • There is national obsession with the ‘Royal Family’, with the media positively focusing on every trivial aspect of their lives.

  • For example, the BBC & ITV even have ‘royal correspondents’.

  • Diana’s marriage to Charles is one particular event which the media gave great attention to; William (pin-up prince) & Harry (hero prince) regularly feature on the covers of glossy magazines.

  • It was only with the Queen’s handling of Diana’s death that she began to receive some media criticism.

  • The media coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee in 2002 reinforced the idea of the Queen as epitomising British national identity.

  • Harry & Charles accused of casual racism in 2009, which the media quickly forgave & diffused.

  • Prince's apology for racist term

  • Prince Harry has been forced to apologise for his behaviour in the past

  • Prince Harry has apologised for using offensive language to describe a Pakistani member of his army platoon.

  • The News of the World has published a video diary in which the prince calls one of his then Sandhurst colleagues a "Paki" in his commentary.

  • St James's Palace said he had used the term three years ago as a nickname about a friend and without any malice.

  • The prince filmed parts of the video and in another clip, he is heard calling another cadet a "raghead".

  • The prince had to apologise in 2005 for wearing a swastika armband to a party, which offended many Jewish people.

The upper class
The Upper Class

  • Popular films & tv drama portray this social group in a nostalgic way, as representing an important aspect of British life.

  • The ruling elite often characterised as being honourable with good breeding.

  • The media rarely portray the upper classes in a negative light, or draw attention to inequalities in wealth or pay.

  • Hierarchy & wealth are actually celebrated, the media almost continuing the myth that Britain is a meritocratic society & that these people are deserving of their position in society.

The celebrity upper class
The celebrity upper class

  • The media celebrate celebrity culture & its excesses.

  • Newman explains the media devotes much time to examining the lifestyles of the celebrities. Examples include the spreads done in ‘Hello’ at a celeb’s wedding or birth of a new child.

  • Advertisements overfocus on luxury cars, luxury holidays that only the wealthy can afford.

  • There are even magazines that focus exclusively on upper class leisure pursuits; ‘Country Life’ & ‘Tatler’.

  • Newman also notes an enormous time is spent in the print & broadcast media on business & stock market information, again something which is of more concern to the upper classes – not of interest to ordinary working people.

The middle classes
The middle classes

  • The middle classes are overrepresented on tv. In most dramas, middle class families are dominant (not in soap operas).

  • Some major British newspapers (Daily Mail, daily Telegraph) are aimed at the middle classes & their consumption patterns (garden design, home improvements).

  • Many stories focus on how the middle classes are concerned about the decline in moral values among other social groups.

  • Many of the experts in the media are often middle class.

The working classes
The working classes

  • Popular working class characters

  • According to Newman, there are very few comedies, films or television drama that focus on the everyday lives of the working class.

  • When they are featured, it is often in an unflattering or pitying manner. Can you think of examples?

  • Newman says when the news focuses on the working class, it is generally to label them as a problem. Common stories focus on them as welfare cheats or criminals, with working class youths particularly given a tough scrutiny. This often leads to moral panics.

  • The general content of w/c papers like The Sun & The Star are focused on trivial issues, with little reference to inequalities.

  • Reporting of unemployment, poverty & single parenthood (all of which most affect the w/c) tends to make out it their own fault – rather than a consequence of government policy.

Positive representations of the working class
Positive representations of the working class television drama that focus on the everyday lives of the working class.

  • Films like ‘The Full Monty’ & ‘Brassed Off’ have been very successful & have portrayed working class life & problems in a dignified & supportive way. Issues such as inequality have also been addressed within the context of these films.

The underclass
The Underclass television drama that focus on the everyday lives of the working class.

  • Newman argues that the news media tends to portray poverty & the underclass in a negative & stereotypical way.

  • Poverty often portrayed via the stats!

  • The media has also been to the forefront of using terms like ‘chav’ to imply their poverty is undignified.

  • Hayward & Yar argue the label ‘chav’ is now used by papers & websites as a term for young poor people.

  • Lawler says the term is a sign of disgust & contempt for a certain group of people & their situation.

The most famous chav of them all
The most famous chav of them all! television drama that focus on the everyday lives of the working class.

  • Stereotypical images of Vicky Pollard includes the wearing of tracksuits, bling, bad attitude & low intelligence.

  • Generally the underclass is portrayed by the media as consisting of irresponsible parents with ‘out of control’ children, living in council housing, relying on welfare benefits & probably indulging in criminal activities.

  • Webster says such media representations send out the message these people are social scum.

  • Even respectable papers, like The Sunday Times, were using terms like NEET (not in education, employment or training) when discussing antisocial youth.

  • What does this term imply?

Conclusion Springer Show where poverty & unfortunate situations are treated as an aspect of entertainment.

  • Media representations of the powerful (upper & middle classes) tend to be more positive than the working classes & poor.

  • What can be then say about the media?