The Scarman Report, the Macpherson Report and the Media: how newspapers respond to race-centred social policy interventions

Neal, Sarah (2003). The Scarman Report, the Macpherson Report and the Media: how newspapers respond to race-centred social policy interventions. Journal of Social Policy, 32(1) pp. 55–74.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S004727940200689X

Abstract

This paper is concerned with tracking the shifts in media discourses surrounding issues of race and social policy interventions through an examination of the newspaper media responses to the Brixton Inquiry and Scarman Report in 1982 and the Lawrence Inquiry and Macpherson Report that appeared eighteen years later in 1999. Brought about by two very different sets of historical events, albeit events which shared certain common features, this paper argues that the Scarman and Macpherson Reports have framed the changing story of 'race relations' in Britain in the last quarter of the twentieth century. While there have, inevitably, been comparisons between the content of the two Reports there has not been a comparative focus on the media reception of the findings and recommendations of the Inquiries. Using written and visual media text from five newspapers the paper seeks to map the extent to which media narratives around both race and race related policy-making have shifted during the course of almost two decades. The paper questions the boundaries of any such changes and examines what remains unchanged.

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