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WJEC AS Media Studies MS1 Representation of Issues: Zero Hours Contracts & Social Class

Rob Miller | Wednesday September 07, 2016

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Key Concepts, Representation & Stereotyping

Representation of issues refers to the way a range of media, across platforms, represents a particular issue. As a rule, issues tend to differentiate from events in that they are not simply ongoing but often reoccurring over time. Moral panics about body shape, diet and drinking culture but also the environment would be seen to be useful examples.

This resource will focus on two issues as covered by UK media - exploitation of the workforce including so-called ‘Zero Hours’ contracts and social class within UK society.

Headline news in UK media in July 2016 reported on working practices at billionaire Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct retail outlet. Stories in a range of print, online and television news media reported on the exploitation of Sports Direct workers . Some of these stories claimed conditions in selected stores were not dissimilar to that of a Victorian Workhouse. Emotive language described workers being paid less than the minimum wage, health and safety breeches and workers being penalised if they took comfort breaks or were sick. Reports even suggested that some workers were offered permanent contracts in return for sexual favours. This ‘event’ highlighted the ongoing issue of workers rights and exploitation across the UK that is sporadically examined across the media.

The BBC1 documentary series, Panorama reported on the exploitation of workers by Apple in 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSvT02q4h40 (see below) while a short online piece in 2015 focused on the plight of migrant workers in the UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrBZmtdvgd0 (see below).

In the same year Euronews explored dominant and oppositional arguments in relation to Zero Hours suggesting that there was a view that this type of contract had assisted with economic recovery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zte9qVIXhXI (see below).

The Financial Times in 2015 reported on how many UK workers on zero hours contracts were as happy...

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