Paper Discussion

Dialogic Opportunities and Poverty-Discourse Fragmentation in the United Kingdom

by Rebecca Krisel

May 06, 2021 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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Poverty discourse in the United Kingdom (U.K.) has become increasingly fragmented: the conversation has shifted from being about poverty at large to being about specific segments of poverty, such as period poverty, food poverty, funeral poverty, child poverty, energy poverty, clothing poverty, among others. This fragmentation of poverty discourse emerged alongside ongoing austerity measures, which have resulted in increases in poverty levels. However, while some say that the fragmentation of poverty discourse is leading the government to provide temporary fixes to poverty issues (e.g., free menstrual products in response to period poverty) while avoiding systemic and structural policy solutions to chronic poverty, others see opportunity in the fragmentation of poverty discourse in galvanizing experts, advocates, and citizens around specific areas of poverty that may make solutions appear more tangible. By contrasting the fragmented poverty discourse to that of the more generalized anti-austerity movement, this article will seek to shed light on three related questions with respect to discourse in policy debates: How do media gatekeepers (i.e., media executives, editors, producers, and reporters) and claimsmakers (e.g., activists and lobbyists) interact to legitimize and disperse fragmented claims? How does discourse fragmentation help or impede the chances of a claim of being covered in traditional media outlets? How does media coverage of fragmented discourse help or impede policy solutions to the claim? To address these questions, this article puts forth the dialogic opportunity structure, a framework to determine the fate of a claim in terms of its coverage in traditional media outlets based on its hegemonic or non-hegemonic qualities, the stability (embedded in public culture) or volatility (emerging or short-lived) of its dialogic opportunities, and its open or closed discursive opportunities (i.e., the ability for a message to be accepted or rejected in the public sphere).

About the Author

Rebecca Krisel is currently a doctoral candidate in political science at the CUNY Graduate Center, where her research focuses on the intersection of digital communication technologies, internet-based social movements, and policymaking.

She received a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) and a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University.

About the Discussant

Shani Horowitz-Rozen is an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University School of Communication and Media. She is also the Founder of Communicating Impact Consulting, which works with nonprofit organizations to develop their internal and external communications strategies. Shani writes on media topics for Ha’aretz and is an alum of the International Fellows Program the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She holds a PhD in Communication and Media Studies from Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, where her dissertation focused on the framing of philanthropy in Israeli media discourse. Shani has worked in corporate social responsibility and the development of scholarship programs in Tel Aviv.

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Panel Discussion

Confronting Everyday Precarity

April 08, 2020 | 12:00- 1:30 PM

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A Panel Discussion with

Prof. Javier Auyero, University of Texas–Austin

Dr. Wilson Sherwin, the Graduate Center

Omar Sirri, University of Toronto

Moderated by Prof. Jillian Schwedler, Hunter College and the Graduate Center

About the Panelists

Javier Auyero is the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Professor in Latin American Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and Interim Director at LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. Auyero is author or co-author of numerous award-winning books, including Poor People’s Politics: Peronist Survival Networks and the Legacy of Evita (2000), In Harm’s Way: The Dynamics of Urban Violence (2015, with María Fernanda Berti), and The Ambivalent State: Police-Criminal Collusion at the Urban Margins (2019, with Katherine Sobering).

Wilson Sherwin is a native New Yorker and a PhD candidate in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her work centers around Marxist theory, feminism, social movements and the sociology of labor. She is currently beginning dissertation research on solutions to unemployment that foster autonomy from waged labor, and on current proposals for Universal Basic Income.

Omar Sirri is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Toronto. He is currently an Affiliated Scholar at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. His doctoral dissertation is an ethnography of urban checkpoint practices in Iraq’s capital city, entitled “Scarecrows of the State: Security Checkpoints in Contemporary Baghdad”.

Jillian Schwedler is a professor of political science at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and the Graduate Center. She is a current member of the editorial committee and former chair of the board of directors (2002-09) of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly Middle East Report. Schwedler is the author of the award-winning Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge 2006) and most recently editor (with Laleh Khalili) of Policing and Prisons in the Middle East (Columbia/Hurst 2010).

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