Library Dissertation Showcase

Did neoliberal rhetoric help justify austerity? A critical discourse analysis of media articles published and political speeches given in 2012

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

The Coalition government gained power in 2010, adopting a voluntary austerity period aimed at neutralising the budget deficit. This period led to an increased emphasis on benefit sanctioning and conditionality, which left many claimants struggling to cover their basic costs. Given several studies have questioned the legitimacy of austerity, there is some indication that its adoption was ideological, linking to the concept of neoliberal governmentality. This theory suggests that state power may be utilised to promote neoliberal goals, often infiltrating the public discourse. This dissertation will assess how this neoliberal discourse may have encouraged a view that the unemployed are undeserving of state support and thus justified stringent austerity measures. To do so, a critical discourse analysis (CDA) will be carried out of media articles by The Sun and Daily Mail, as well as political speeches given by Iain Duncan Smith, George Osborne and David Cameron in 2012. This will allow for an understanding of the way claimants are discussed within two prominent sources, as well as a comparison of how the key themes within each text compare. Consequently, this dissertation will take the view that neoliberal discourse has demonised claimants whilst pushing neoliberal ideals, and therefore helped present austerity as ‘common sense.’

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