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Using corpora to investigate the representation of poverty in the 2015 UK general election campaign

Author:

Alessia Tranchese

University of Portsmouth, GB
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Abstract

This paper investigates the representation of poverty during the 2015 UK general election campaign. The analysis is based on a corpus of articles published in the daily, Sunday and online editions of nine national newspapers. A framework combining the mainly qualitative approach of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) with corpus-based techniques is used to address the following questions: which themes did the press foreground and background a) when poverty was mentioned explicitly, b) when it was referred to in terms of the welfare system and c) when the two were mentioned together in the same article? The main claim of this study is that explicit discussion of poverty in the media was infrequent during the campaign period, reflecting a lack of attention paid to poverty by politicians. Moreover, when poverty was mentioned, it was talked about as an international issue without tangible public impacts; this placed it firmly outside the arena of the general election campaign. Poverty was presented as a moral issue that must be ended, while the reduction of expenditure on benefits through welfare reform was posed as a necessity for the reduction of debt, and central to the general election campaign. I further argue that the press was able to send such contradictory messages about poverty and the welfare state by separating them into two parallel debates.
How to Cite: Tranchese, A. (2019). Using corpora to investigate the representation of poverty in the 2015 UK general election campaign. Journal of Corpora and Discourse Studies, 2, 65–93. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18573/jcads.9
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Published on 17 Sep 2019.
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