KEYWORDS – Stereotypes, Media Representation, Judgements.




When outlining the research outlines for my documentary idea ‘The Job Centre’, the primary goal was to explore the perceptions and judgements emerging from both the general public and the media towards those participating in the benefit system.!
In this sense I feel that the project fits in to these two thematic threads; Process and Material Expression; and Mapping Space. Using these two themes I will expand my research further in terms of process and possibility of learning. I hope to delve deeper and learn more about how media representation and stereotyping, influences the general public towards other people and the way they live their lives.
My project has been developed following a surge of coverage regarding benefits in the last two years. One particular aspect of this are a number of documentaries that situate the Job Centre at its centre, as well as those seeking benefits (e.g – “Benefits Street”, a Channel 4 Documentary and “Don’t cap my benefits”, a BBC Documentary). In such examples, the media representation of those enrolled evokes pre-existent and continually reinforced stereotypes suggestive of laziness and exploitation of the welfare state. This is primarily done through a definitive, documentary focus on real life characters who conform to such characteristics; people who have chosen the benefit system as a lifestyle choice rather than a short-term aid for becoming employed.

I will argue that the media demonstrates an overly negative perspective of the Job Centre which in turn can influence the general public and cause controversy. In my research, I will offer an alternative perspective by exploring the wide range of individuals who have signed on at the Job Centre and document their stories to shed new light on the topic, as well as spread the emphasis beyond generalization and stereotypes into some of the many real lives of those legitimately engaged with the welfare state. A inspiration that echoes through my mind in terms of representing the subjects of working class culture in their truest form, is British documentary filmmaker Martin Parr. I would like to explore and experiment with his unique style of documentary making and use his approach of subtracting honest and raw information as inspiration for my research project.

After experiencing the Job Centre personally, having enrolled there myself two years ago, I now have a strong, personal interest in exploring these topics further. In doing so, the areas I will investigate are the benefit system itself, and its efficiency in terms of benefiting the people it is intended to on a long-term basis. Also, I will set out to examine the issue of stereotyping and how it affects those who enrol at the Job Centre. Finally the general working public’s opinions, both pro and against the Job Centre Scheme will be explored.


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