Social Policy, the Media, and Misrepresentation

By Bob Franklin | Go to book overview

and the causes of all this-as superordinate and exclusive. A particular image, such as that of lone mothers as a social threat, may be contested by less powerful lobby groups such as the NCOPF. But such attempts to insert an alternative identity for lone mothers into the categorical space still rely on the same unitary and essentialist mode of thought as that dominant in media and political portrayals. They do not admit, or recognise, diversity within the category, or that the category itself may be cross-cut or even unimportant where other differences (like those of class, ethnicity or location) may be the more influential in explaining motivations, behaviour and causes. This means, moreover, that the 'categorical identity' that ascribes a particular set of characteristics to the taxonomic group 'lone mothers' is not the same as the various 'ontological identities' of lone mothers themselves-how they think about themselves in relation to others and their situation (Duncan and Edwards 1999; Taylor 1998). These ontological considerations have little authority or power, however, and largely remain invisible unless they are used by the media to support pre-existing categories of lone motherhood as a social threat or a social problem.


Note
1
In this chapter, following UK academic convention, we use 'lone motherhood' as a generic term covering divorced, separated, widowed and never-married mothers, with 'single mothers' specifically referring to never-married mothers (which in itself includes both previously cohabiting and never-cohabiting mothers). In media reports, however, the terms 'single mother' or 'single parent' tend to be used generically (and are often preferred by lone mothers themselves-see Duncan and Edwards 1999).

References

b
Bradshaw, J., Kennedy, S., Kilkey, M., Hutton, S., Corden, A., Eardley, T., Holmes, H. and Neale, J. (1996) The Employment of Lone Parents: a Comparison of Policies in 20Countries, London/York: Family Policies Study Centre/Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Burghes, L. (1993) One Parent Families: Policy Options for the 1990s, London/York: Family Policy Studies Centre/Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Burghes, L. and Brown, M. (1995) Single Lone Mothers: Problems, Prospects and Policies, London: Family Policy Studies Centre.

d
Dowler, E. and Calvert, C. (1995) Nutrition and Diet in Lone Parent Families in London, London: Family Policy Studies Centre.
Driver, S. and Martell, L. (1997) 'New Labour's Communitarianisms', Critical SocialPolicy 17(3):27-46.
Duncan, S. (1995) 'Theorising European gender systems', Journal of European SocialPolicy 5(4):284.
Duncan, S. and Edwards, R. (1999) Lone Mothers and Paid Work: Gendered MoralRationalities, London: Macmillan.

l
Lewis, J. (1995) 'The problem of lone mother families in twentieth century Britain',

-251-

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Social Policy, the Media, and Misrepresentation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures and Tables vii
  • Introduction 1
  • References 13
  • Part 1 - Producing Social Policy News 15
  • Chapter 1 - Soft-Soaping the Public? 17
  • References 36
  • Chapter 2 - Media Coverage of Social Policy 39
  • Chapter 3 - Charitable Images 51
  • Chapter 4 - Dying of Ignorance? 69
  • References 84
  • Part 2 - The Media Reporting of Social Policy 87
  • Chapter 5 - Poor Relations 89
  • Notes 102
  • Chapter 6 - Home Truths 104
  • Chapter 7 - The Picture of Health? 118
  • References 133
  • Chapter 8 - Media and Mental Health 135
  • Note 144
  • Chapter 9 - Thinking the Unthinkable 146
  • Note 156
  • Chapter 10 - Are You Paying Attention? 157
  • References 172
  • Chapter 11 - Exorcising Demons 174
  • Part 3 - The Media Reporting of Social Policy 191
  • Chapter 12 - Bulger, 'Back to Basics' and the Rediscovery of Community 193
  • References 205
  • Chapter 13 - The Ultimate Neighbour from Hell? 207
  • Notes 220
  • Chapter 14 - Out of the Closet 222
  • Chapter 15 - Social Threat or Social Problem? 238
  • Note 251
  • Chapter 16 - They Make Us Out to Be Monsters 253
  • Index 269
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