Citizen or consumer?

Representations of class in post-war British media

Authored by: Mick Temple

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474


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This chapter critically examines the relationship between changing media representations of class and views of the audience as ‘consumers’, ‘citizens’ or ‘citizen-consumers’. After a brief historical overview of the relationship between the concepts, we focus on the post-Second World War decades. Representations of class and patterns of consumption in the British national press are complemented by an analysis of the class orientations of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and, from 1955, the Independent Television (ITV) channels. The ways in which changing media representations of class have influenced the public and the role played by post-war British newspapers and television in challenging and changing perceptions of class and citizenship are the main elements of the chapter, which concludes by assessing the potential of the citizen-consumer to assert political power in a world dominated by global mass media.

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