CD-skiva med titel Working Class Hero

New Special Issue on the relationship between media and class

| 28 april 2021

A new Special Issue has just been published, entitled “Class in/and the media: On the importance of class in media and communication studies”. The eight contributions to this special issue collectively focus on the relationship between media and class.

Social class is one of the most enduring concepts in the social sciences and is associated with many of the key themes and topics across multiple disciplines. The ambition of this Special Issue is to offer a glimpse into the heterogeneity of its uses in the field. 

The issue report on some of the current Nordic scholarship in this growing field of research and highlights the particularities of the relationship between class, inequality and media in this region.

“The special issue that is now being published; what is it about, who should read it, and why?”

“I think the point of departure must be that a new kind of class society has emerged, and in order to understand this society – and the role played by the media in it – we need to ask how class is portrayed in journalism and other kinds of media. This perspective is one part of the issue: class in different media. But it’s equally important to ask how social class shapes how people navigate the contemporary media landscape: how people with different backgrounds and with different resources at their disposal think, choose, and act in relation to what’s being offered” says Johan Lindell one of the editors in an interview about the Special Issue on NordMedia Network.

Guest editors are: Peter Jakobsson, Johan Lindell, and Fredrik Stiernstedt 

The Special Issue includes the following articles 

Class conflict in the era of post-politics: Representing the Swedish port strike in the news media by Ernesto Abalo & Diana Jacobsson

The study analyses how class relations are constructed in the coverage of the Swedish port conflict and examines the discourse in the Swedish press. 

Everybody who is interested in how the media frame labour relations and construct specific power relations as common sense should read this article. 

Dismissing class: Media representations of workers’ conditions in the Global South by Vladimir Cotal San Martin

In this article the author looks at the way the Swedish press reports on the activities of Transnational Corporations in Global South countries. 

The news media carry a central role in shaping transnational public perceptions and attitudes towards not only workers and worker conditions but also political and economic actors who are behind the growing exploitation of workers in the Global South. However, there is scant research on how the news media represent workers’ working conditions in the Global South. 

The analysis suggests that the issue of workers’ conditions is made relevant to the Swedish public through a “consumer framework” that not only confers proximity and relevance on the topic, but also effectively recontextualises agency and responsibility towards particular or individual social actors, obscuring the class dimension of labour relations and global production

Labour Unions, other worker organizations, the public and anyone interested in how the media construct (Ideological) meaning around this particular topic could benefit from reading this article. 

Interpolations of class, “race”, and politics: Denmark’s Jyllands Posten and its coverage of Greek national elections during the “Greek crisis” by Yannis Mylonas & Matina Noutsou

This research is about the ways that the Greek economic crisis of 2010-2019, was covered by the danish mainstream media. The authors followed a critical approach, that stressed the politics of the Greek crisis publicity in Denmark, because they argue that this publicity was full of negative biases. In their analysis they pinpoint the racist, but also classist, and post-political underpinnings of the Greek crisis coverage, while studying the coverage of different Greek national elections (that happened during 2010-2019) by Jyllands Posten daily. 

This article might be particularly interesting for Critical media researchers working with the study of media representations of political issues, scholars of class, race and ethnicity, activists, and also migrants from the European and world peripheries living in Scandinavia and in the European core states.

Investigations of a journalistic blind spot: Class, constructors, and carers in Norwegian media by Tine  Ustad Figenschou, Elisabeth Eide, &  Ruth Einervoll  Nilsen

The study analyses media representations of two traditional working-class sectors in Norwegian mainstream newspapers and trade union magazines over time. Based on quantitative content analysis, it documents a steady decline in media coverage from the mid-90s till today, indicating that ‘the labour beat’ as an established specialisation is disappearing.  

The article gives a systematic analysis of media coverage of two working class sectors and offers a critical discussion of mediated representations of class, gender and ethnicity.  

All in a day’s work: Working-class heroes as videogame protagonists by Michael Iantorno, Courtney Blamey, Lyne Dwyer, & Mia Consalvo

Class depictions in videogames are prevalent yet understudied. In this article, we analyse how the working class – particularly working-class men – have been depicted in videogames over the past 30 years.

Our analysis finds that some roles are glorified (such as firefighters), positioning their protagonists in direct conflict with white-collar settings and antagonists. However, many other roles task players with “doing their job” in the face of repetitive (and sometimes outlandish) working conditions. Through these examples, we document the portrayal of working-class videogame heroes, noting how videogames can both reinforce and subvert common media tropes.

The space of media usage in Finland, 2007 and 2018: The impact of online activities on its structure and its association with sociopolitical divisions by  Semi Purhonen, Adrian Leguina & Riie Heikkilä

The topic of this research is the impact of online activities on media use. The authors study this in the light of nationally representative, comparable data collected in Finland in 2007 and 2018. We examine whether increased social media usage create new divisions or comply with traditional patterns of media use.

Any scholar of sociology, the media, or anywhere in between, as well as practitioners and policymakers interested in digital inequalities could benefit from reading this article. 

Class and everyday media use: A case study from Norway by Jan Fredrik Hovden & Lennart Rosenlund

In this article, the authors consider how contemporary media use is structured by social class with a detailed study of everyday use of media platforms, brands, and content among Norwegian citizens. 

While identifying important gender and generational differences, this study clearly shows how media use inside both younger and older generations are marked by class differences, which we argue demonstrates the fundamental and continuing importance of class for understanding mediated lifestyles.

Class conditioning and class positioning in young people’s everyday life with digital media: Exploring new forms of class-making in the Swedish media welfare state by Martin Danielsson

In this article, the author explore how social class shapes the conditions and configurations of digital media practice in the everyday life of young people in Sweden. 

Drawing on Bourdieusian theory and qualitative interview data from two research projects, he complicate the notion of Sweden as a universally wired media welfare state by showing how economic and cultural forces are structuring Internet access and digital media practice along the lines of preexisting social divisions.