Television characterizations of homeless people in the United Kingdom
Hodgetts, D. J., Cullen, A. M. & Radley, A.(2005). Television characterizations of homeless people in the United Kingdom. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 5(1), 1-20.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2063
Media link events in society into meaningful plotlines for public consumption. For social issues such as homelessness this storytelling process continues until an issue is resolved or another concern takes precedence. This article investigates British Independent Television News1 (ITN) portrayals of homelessness from January 1993 to December 2002 (n= 99). News items are explored as instalments in a larger news narrative through which the public is offered engagements with homeless characters. A quantitative content analysis was used to establish the general prevalence of items throughout the year, story locations, causes and solutions offered for homelessness, and character roles. A qualitative narrative analysis was used to explore the function of these story elements in the overall patterning of the ITN story of homelessness. Of particular note was the promotion of a philanthropic approach to service delivery through the characterization of homeless people as needy victims and the maintenance of estranged relationships between the viewing public and homeless people. The significance of ITN's exclusion of homeless people from public deliberations regarding their needs is discussed in relation to the failure of this wealthy nation to resolve homelessness.