Welfare Commonsense, Poverty Porn and Doxosophy

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Tracey Jensen (2014)
  • Subject: Classificatory Politics, Welfare Reform, Worklessness, Poverty Porn, Doxosophy, Media Culture

This article critically examine how Benefits Street – and the broader genre of poverty porn television – functions to embed new forms of ‘commonsense’ about welfare and worklessness. It argues that such television content and commentary crowds out critical perspectives with what Pierre Bourdieu (1999) called ‘doxa', making the social world appear self-evident and requiring no interpretation, and creating new forms of neoliberal commonsense around welfare and social security. The article consider how consent for this commonsense is animated through poverty porn television and the apparently ‘spontaneous’ (in fact highly editorialized) media debate it generates: particularly via ‘the skiver’, a figure of social disgust who has re-animated ideas of welfare dependency and deception.
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