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Framing fraud: Discourse on benefit cheating in Sweden and the UK
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2013 (English)In: European Journal of Communication, ISSN 0267-3231, E-ISSN 1460-3705, Vol. 28, no 6, 630-645 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyses discourse on benefit fraud in Swedish and British newspapers. It furthermore compares discourse on fraud in newspapers and political blogs in the two countries. In Sweden, fraud is primarily articulated as a collective social problem in policy discussions related to the health insurance programme. In the UK, it is often articulated employing strategies commonly associated with crime news narratives, and centred on images of individual cheaters. The main result of the analysis presented here is that these observed differences between British and Swedish media representations are related to the ways in which the relationship between the welfare state and the citizens traditionally have been constructed in liberal and social democratic contexts respectively. Political attempts to highlight the issue of benefit fraud, and dominant media representations of such attempts, must therefore be understood not as attempts to combat fraud, but rather as attempts to delegitimize the more general aim and purpose of the welfare state. They challenge the deservingness of welfare recipients in general, not just the ones that cheat, and they thereby transform the conditions for public trust in the welfare state. News discourse on fraud in both countries establishes a neoliberal, financialized and individualized notion of welfare dependency, through which the relationship between social and structural circumstances on the one hand, and poverty, exclusion and inequality on the other, become blurred. The comparison of newspapers and blogs suggests that although dominant media representations are contested through citizen-created journalism in both contexts, they also limit the conditions for discursive struggles over the issue of benefit fraud significantly.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2013. Vol. 28, no 6, 630-645 p.
Keyword [en]
benefit fraud, benefit cheating, news, discourse analysis, content analysis
Keyword [sv]
bidragsfusk, nyheter, diskursanalys, innehållsanalys
National Category
Media Studies Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Sociology; medie- och kommunikationsvetenskap
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80471DOI: 10.1177/0267323113502737ISI: 000328498100002OAI: diva2:649268
Available from: 2013-09-18 Created: 2013-09-18 Last updated: 2014-01-23Bibliographically approved

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Lundström, Ragnar
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Department of Sociology
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Media StudiesSociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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