Austerity and Visual Propaganda

It has become a weekly if not a daily ritual in Rupert Murdoch’s British tabloid newspaper The Sun : in big and bold articles it writes how ‘feckless’ citizens work or cheat the state’s benefit system in order to support a lifestyle above and beyond what average British families could afford. Although each case uncovered by the tabloid is different, in essence all articles on the benefit culture in Britain follow the exact same formula in which the benefit recipient is depicted as lazy, calculating and undeserving of state handouts. The Sun usually focuses on extreme cases such as workless households with large numbers of children, individuals with a history of substance abuse or anti-social behaviour, or recipients with more unusual cases of disability which the tabloid attacks with fervour. With a remarkable consistency, alongside such articles is usually a photograph which depicts the individual or the family in question. In this blog post I want to analyse these photographs, uncover how they conform to visual types and in doing so relate to a larger political agenda.

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