Revisiting the Welfare State Through the Decades: An Examination of the Welfare State in The Times newspaper from 1940-2009.

van der Bom, Isabelle and Paterson, Laura L (2020). Revisiting the Welfare State Through the Decades: An Examination of the Welfare State in The Times newspaper from 1940-2009. In: Gomez-Jimenez, Eva M. and Toolan, Michael eds. The Discursive Construction of Inequality in the British Media: CADS Approaches. Bloomsbury, pp. 49–68.

URL: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/the-discursive-const...

Abstract

The concept of a ‘welfare state’ became established in the UK following the publication of the famous Beveridge Report in 1942. As a notion, the welfare state was established to tackle social inequality through a series of government policies that provided (among other things) a safety net for the unemployed, access to education and nationalized health care. Today, however, the term ‘welfare state’ is often discussed in terms of rising costs, austerity measures and a system under strain. This chapter traces whether and how policy and attitudinal changes to the welfare state are evident in newspaper discourse. To ascertain whether and when attitudes have fluctuated, we use seven-decade-long corpora of the Times held in CQPweb (Hardie 2012) to investigate how the newspaper reported on the welfare state from its initiation in the 1940s to the end of the 2000s. Acknowledging that we only have data from a single source which covers this seventy-year time span, we use the Times as a case study of how discourses surrounding the welfare state (as indexed through language) have developed over time. Our corpus-based discourse analysis of the Times begins with collocation analysis and expands to include an analysis of co-text and wider social contexts. We address the following:
1. (How) do reports about the welfare state change over time?
2. Is the welfare state associated with any core concepts which remain unchanged over time?
3. How does the language used to report on the welfare state index wider discourses about the UK welfare state from the 1940s to 2009?

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