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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
  • 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
  • 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!
  • 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?
The Jeremy Kyle Show is a British version of the Jerry 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?