Stigma surrounding Poverty

The welfare in the UK has become a lot more strict in the way it controls the recipients of welfare payouts. It has also immediately classified poverty into two groups: those who are responsible for how they became poor and those in which being poor was out of their control. This kind of structure hasn’t changed much within society over the centuries, the media works to headline cases in our country of economic crisis which gains much attention but the other crisis is the social and moral crisis which is stating that the ‘Broken society’ (the poor) are adding to this economic crisis.

As explained by Gerry Mooney, the term ‘Broken Britain’ is an extremely flexible term used to describe a range of social problems. A central argument stated by David Cameron is that “the broken and failing part of society has its roots in ‘Broken Families.'”

Its interesting to see that ‘family life’ is one of the central ideas of why Britain is deemed broken. An example shared in class was struggle street and it became apparent that many of the children documented in the series had problems due to how they were brought up, they simply didn’t know any better or were ‘born into it’.

In class we spoke about ‘Poverty Porn’, a term defined as commercialising poverty as a way of selling it to an audience. I believe Struggle street is a very good example of this, it is aimed to shed light on areas which are commonly associated with housing commission, law issues and drug use. However characters are cherry- picked, a narrator is added as well as music etc. This all adds to the entertainment factor of airing the program for SBS. We often experience the worst of that area for entertainment purposes instead of documenting the area the way it is. This sways the audiences opinion of a certain area and of the people in that community as well as an automated stigma surrounding what we have seen, adding to the way in which ‘main-stream society’ views the ‘broken society’ as a whole.

Gerry Mooney repeatedly coins the idea that people experiencing poverty are assaulted by the media within the genre of poverty porn and as a whole. Similar to Struggle street, a program named ‘The Scheme’ was aired in England targeting a housing commissioned area in Scotland. This provided a view on poverty and people experiencing poverty through focusing on individuals and their lifestyles much like struggle street.This program was not a fair representation of the area, it had no consideration for underlying issues in the economy such as the economic change in East Ayrshire.

So whats the difference between Struggle street and Jack Monroe’s blog in regards to poverty porn? In class we were asked to explain the difference between poverty porn and something else entirely. This comparison is a great example. Jack Monroe has been through poverty, she isn’t trying to sell her recipes or sell that she is poor to people. Jack has been through poverty in every shameful detail and is helping others like her. Struggle street is narrated by someone else and extremely selective on what it chooses to air, this changes an audiences opinion and creates stigma surrounding poverty.

If you have experienced the truth behind poverty, ‘poverty porn’ is nearly impossible.  You have been through it so why would you sell it as entertainment? Struggle street is produced by someone else, as entertainment. This I believe is the difference between poverty porn and plain, hard, truthful poverty.




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