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22-Oct-2017 13:32 by 8 Comments

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And there is not only ‘political capital’ to be made here.

Love Productions, 70% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s global media conglomerate Sky, describes Benefits Street, as a ‘documentary series’, ‘an honest depiction’ which ‘reveals the reality of life on benefits’ and ‘give[s] voice to a community that don’t really have a voice’ ).The shot then cuts to street-level, a young woman, dressed in a hooded top, jeans and a baseball cap appears, filmed from behind she is walking down a street, pointing to individual houses, while she chants in unison with a man (who is off camera), ‘unemployed, unemployed, unemployed’.Then an elderly male voice with a Caribbean lilt begins speaking off camera, ‘You see this street here, James Turner Street’.Under the glare of television cameras, their protest was an imaginative dissent against `the politics of disposability’ (Giroux, 2007). Indeed, the ‘F**k Benefits Street Protest’ is indicative of ongoing class struggles against the symbolic violence and material dispossession of ‘neoliberal capitalist domination’ (Bourdieu, 1998 p. However, television, as Pierre Bourdieu reminds us, is ‘an industry which edits and organizes perception, offering visions of the world, classified, portioned and divided in specific ways’ (Bourdieu in Crossley and Slater 2014).

The accumulation and repetition of televisual figures of ‘the undeserving poor’ exerts powerful limits on the political imagination by establishing a consensus that Britain, in the words of one viewer, is ‘crawling with workshy, malingerers’ (ref northern echo).The film cuts again, and the camera pans across the street revealing three men, two of them are smoking in the doorway of a house, a third, his face pixelated, approaches them in a hooded sports top.This is followed by a rapid cut to a shot of a large pile of domestic waste in the street, split black plastic rubbish sacks lie under a tree spilling their contents across road and pavement as children play nearby.875), producing scapegoats for the inequalities which unfold from the crisis of financial capitalism.A reminder that the post-industrial working class not only face precarious employment, downward social mobility, and extreme social insecurity, but endure conditions of ‘heighted stigmatisation […] in daily life as well as in public discourse’ (Wacquant, 2008, pp. More than this though, as I argue in my book (2013), the formation of ‘national abjects’ in the public sphere, are technologies of social control through which the transition from welfare to postwelfare states is effected.From the programmes title, Benefits Street, through to the splicing of images of rubbish strewn streets, unattended children, loitering youths, cigarettes and alcohol, hooded tops and baseball caps, punctuated by a soundtrack of ‘unemployed, unemployed, unemployed’, the audience is instructed to reimagine the welfare state as a ‘benefits culture’, which impoverishes citizens, feeds addictions and creates what government ministers such as Iain Duncan Smith have described as fatal dependencies amongst ‘those trapped in its clutches’ .