“Being Poor is Not Entertainment”: Class Struggles against Poverty Porn – By Imogen Tyler

mediapovertywelfare

 

The fate of groups is bound up with the words that designate them (Bourdieu, 1984)

Aust[ralian] election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time. (Rupert Murdoch tweet 2013)

 

Benefits Street, made by Love productions, is a six-episode reality television programme first screened on the 6th of January 2014 on Channel Four. The ten-second opening sequence begins with a camera panning over the rooftops of a row of terraced houses, a generic ‘view from above’ which establishes from the outset ‘the voyeurism of one class looking at another’ (Higson 1996:152, see also Lovell 1996 and Tyler 2011). As the shot pans across the roofs, a woman’s voice calls out the word ‘unemployed’ in a soft Birmingham (Brummy) accent. The shot then cuts to street-level, a young woman, dressed in a hooded top, jeans and…

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