• The British working class is represented in a
number of ways on television and film and this
representation has changed to some extent
over the years, sometimes depending on the
institutional provider or on audience needs.
The Angry Young Man era
• The films reflected previous representation in a number of
ways – certainly in iconographical terms - (talk about Eley’s
(1995) views here) but how were they different and what
influenced them? Use Karel Reisz’ Saturday Night, Sunday
Morning (1960) as the example
• Remember – until then, wc representation had been
marginalised on screen
• How and why was representation different on TV – talk
about audience and institutional needs – how is this
reflected in the first episode of Coronation Street (1960)?
Iconography is similar, but…? You could mention Tuchman
(1978) here, because she’s wrong about the representation
of women in the case of soaps.
What’s it like today?
• Film – Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur (2011) and
Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share (2012) – more
brutal? Sign of hope? Why are people like Joseph
and Robbie portrayed this way – they’re
frustrated living within the confines of a class
system, but their reactions and behaviour are
more extreme than Arthur Seaton’s. What does
Gauntlett (2002) say about the messages we get
from the media about identity? What are the
problesm with the ending of The Angels’ Share?
• More upmarket – look at the mise-en-scene of
most houses in Eastenders. More dysfunction
(examples?). Why is Coronation Street different?
Older audience in general; still largely female BUT
have to compete for audience in a multi-channel
era – more crime stories (to attract males) and
more stories involving younger people – issue-
bases stories, the frequency of which point to
sensationalism to attract an audience rather than
any real drama (examples?).
Owen Jones – left wing critic and
• Demonisation of the Working Class (2013) and his Huw
Wheldon Television lecture - feels a lot of
representation is negative – examples?
• Where? How? Read what he says…
• Why are some of these shows popular? Give
• What might the effect be? What does he say about
Vicky Pollard and the way this particular representation
was picked up by the press?
• What about the way Ian Duncan Smith was allegedly
influenced by what he saw on Benefit Street?
Is Jones right?
• If we take Gramsci’s ideas about hegemony as
correct, then… yes….
• If we take the Cultural Effects theory (1965),
audience and the way as the truth, then yeas,
audiences can be influenced by
representations that they see over a long
period of time
• The effect is debatable – modern identity
theorists like Gauntlett (2002) would dispute the
rigidity of this view – example?
• Gammon and Marshment (1998) – stress the role
of the audience in the construction of meaning
• British Broadcasting Standards Commission
research into the way people watch soaps – even
the most fanatical viewers don’t believe they are
• How do working class audiences contribute to the
construction of images of working class?
• Look at slide 27 in the slideshare below BUT also note that
you, as working class people, have made your own media
texts in which you represent working class life
• However – is the audience, though potentially vast, likely to
be as big as, say, that for Jeremy Kyle or Benefit Street –
and bear in mind that any controversy is likely to be picked
up by the media – in fact, Owen Jones discussed these
shows and their potential effect on a Culture Show special,
as well as in his book and in the Huw Wheldon lecture
• Look at the last two slides in the Vicky Pollard powerpoint
below – make sure you know what collective identity is and
understand that in the age of web 2.0 working class people
can contribute to that sense of collective identity (think of
your own films that you’ve put on YouTube and your blogs)
though, of course they may have taken SOME aspects from
existing models that they have seen represented in the
media – as Gauntlett says
• Be aware that some aspects of working class
representation have become generic and ingrained in or
consciousness and I think Jones is worried that less savory
aspects (the working class as scroungers, layabouts etc) will
become dominant views in a period where people are
being forced into attending foodbanks due to government
cuts and austerity methods and will affect the views and
prejudices of other people, including opinion- leaders in
the media and policy makers, like Ian Duncan Smith