Library Dissertation Showcase

Did negative portrayals of working class mothers help validate the troubled families programme? A critical discourse analysis of political speeches and media articles from 2012 to 2015

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2022

In 2012, the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) was introduced to help 120,000 troubled families in England turn their lives around through individual family interventions. Families were deemed troubled if they experienced three or more problems, such as antisocial behaviour, unemployment, and domestic abuse. This policy represented the aims of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition, which has promoted traditional family values and individual responsibility. Critics have claimed that the program was motivated by the 2011 riots to draw attention away from structural disadvantages by associating poverty with antisocial behaviour. This demonisation of a vulnerable group appears particularly significant in the austerity era, which has seen many in poverty branded as ‘scroungers’ or ‘lazy’. The dissertation examined the political and media narrative surrounding troubled families to evaluate the claim that this policy demonised vulnerable families. The focus of the study was primarily on mothers due to heteronormative assumptions that indicate that mothers are responsible for the household. A critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach was adopted, which focused on examining the use of language as an ideological tool. This consisted of analysing the key discursive themes surrounding the TFP from both the media articles and speeches, as well as the use of quotes. This dissertation concludes that neoliberal discourse has vilified vulnerable families in order to justify austerity measures which harm them.

PLEASE NOTE: You must be a member of the University of Lincoln to be able to view this dissertation. Please log in here.