Constructions of welfare recipients and work in New Zealand newspapers : an examination of discourse and policy : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University, New Zealand
This paper drew from discursive psychology and Foucauldian discourse analysis to analyse and critique constructions of welfare, its recipients and proposed policies as they were discussed in 200 New Zealand newspaper accounts published between 2005 and 2014. Analysis identified three dominant discursive formations related to welfare and work in the media accounts: the culture of dependence, carrot-stick discourse and work as a panacea. Media accounts were examined for stereotypical constructions of welfare recipients to reveal the promotion of particular social positions, attributions of blame and practices. Media accounts of proposed welfare policies that drew from these discursive formations were similarly examined to demonstrate the potential for media constructions to inform policy changes. Media accounts that resisted the dominant discursive formations were examined for alternative accounts of welfare recipients, work and policy. The dominant discursive formations were demonstrated to rest on a neoliberal social framework that promoted the interests of dominant social groups and shifted blame off an unequal society and economic structure onto welfare recipients. These findings demonstrate a need to increase the representation of welfare recipients’ interests through research exploring their lived experiences of dependence and the continued critique of existing social and power structures.