Orchestrating the political elite? Accounting for the role of representations of public opinion in the UK tabloid anti-asylum campaign

Brown, A.R and Matthews, J (2005) Orchestrating the political elite? Accounting for the role of representations of public opinion in the UK tabloid anti-asylum campaign. In: Fortress Europe and its 'Others': Cultural Representations in Film, Media and the Arts, 4 - 6 April 2005, University of London, UK.

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Abstract

The issue our paper highlights is (a) how we theorise the articulation of media representation(s) of the ‘other’ with ‘public opinion’ formation and (b) how we can go on to ‘test’ such a theorisation within an adequate research design? Our paper reports on current research into UK tabloid coverage of asylum and immigration issues in the ‘right-wing’ press (as defined by van Dijk 1991: 9): The Sun, Star, Daily Mail and Express (as well as comparative coverage of the broadsheet papers) during 2003. Our sample was guided by the selection of periods of high coverage over issues we suspected would be significant to our hypothesis: Citizenship issues, Asylum, immigration, internal-terrorism and the E.U. Our general hypothesis is that such papers have acted as an unofficial opposition to the Labour party during this period and that their disproportionate coverage and treatment of these issues has attempted to structure public debate in particularly ‘negative’ ways that articulate a (codified) ‘race’ and nation agenda through the representation of the threat to borders, cultural purity and national homogeneity, of threatening ‘others’. Our methodological procedure has been to identify, through systematic sampling and content analysis, the relative (a) frequency and (b) ideological significance of the use of particular words, groups of words and how these relate to the framing and communication of news schemata or stories (we also consider visual ‘anchoring’ as a variable here). We then seek to identify how the content of such coverage can be correlated with ‘proxy indicators’ of ‘public opinion’ i.e. political statements, policy announcements, the framing and debate of legislation and the treatment of public ‘concern’ as it has been represented in the rhetoric of such newspapers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2018 11:26
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2018 11:28
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