Unfit to work or a benefits scrounger? A study of UK Channel 4’s Benefits Street

The popularity of the recent hit TV show Benefits Street has alerted the public’s attention as to who is really claiming benefits these days. Are the people on the TV series genuinely ‘disabled/unfit to work,’ or are they just clowns in the media circus surrounding the benefit system? 

Recently published in Disability & Society the article “ DisPovertyPorn: Benefits Street and the dis/ability paradox ” by Runswick-Cole & Goodley offers a socio-cultural analysis of UK Channel 4’s reality television series Benefits Street .

This study delves deep into whether a new archetype of media represents ‘poor’ people in a negative light; highlighting their faults and suggesting that they simply don’t want to work. This is done for entertainment purposes, creating a culture of ‘poverty porn’ which raises the question; is this form of ‘entertainment’ actually a form of exploitation of the subjects of these TV shows?

The authors cite Tracy Jensen’s research which explores the classed and gendered intersections of contemporary parenting culture, “Nowadays there are reality television programmes that seek to individualise poverty, and to blame and shame ‘the poor’ for the situations they find themselves in.”

The study explores what it is to have a disability and ways in which the category of disability ‘enlarges, disrupts, pauses, questions and clarifies what it means to be human’.

Cultural understandings as to what it means to be a ‘scrounger’ are explored and they consider public perception on whether these people are considered genuinely disabled, or simply work-shy.

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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS

When referencing the article: Please include Journal title Disability & Society, authors Katherine Runswick-Cole & Dan Goodley, published by Taylor & Francis and the following statement:

* Read the full article online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09687599.2015.1008294

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About Taylor & Francis Group

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Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life.  As one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works our content spans all areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioural Sciences, Science, and Technology and Medicine.

From our network of offices in Oxford, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, New Delhi and Johannesburg, Taylor & Francis staff provide local expertise and support to our editors, societies and authors and tailored, efficient customer service to our library colleagues.

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Taylor & Francis Group partners with researchers, scholarly societies, universities and libraries worldwide to bring knowledge to life. As one of the world’s leading publishers of scholarly journals, books, ebooks and reference works our content spans all areas of Humanities, Social Sciences, Behavioral Sciences, Science, and Technology and Medicine. From our network of offices in Oxford, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Boston, Melbourne, Singapore, Beijing, Tokyo, Stockholm, New Delhi and Johannesburg, Taylor & Francis staff provide local expertise and support to our editors, societies and authors and tailored, efficient customer service to our library colleagues.

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