Electronic supplement analysis of multiple texts
Exploring discourses of UK poverty in Below the Line comments
This paper adapts O’Halloran’s (2010) electronic supplement analysis (ESA) to investigate debates about UK poverty in online newspaper articles and reader responses to those articles. While O’Halloran’s method was originally conceived to facilitate close reading, this paper modifies ESA for corpus-based discourse analysis by scaling it up to include multiple texts. I analyse (key-)keywords and concordances to compare seven articles from the Mail Online (2010–2015) with their 2354 reader responses generated using the newspapers’ Below the Line (BTL) comments feature. The analysis provides a snapshot of the discourses BTL commenters draw upon when writing about UK poverty. Unemployment, benefits receipt, and single parenthood were repeatedly referred to in the newspaper articles and their comments, but BTL commenters also drew on personal narratives and (fictional) anecdotes to index notions of flawed consumerism, scroungers, and the deserving and undeserving poor.
Keywords: poverty, BTL comments, electronic supplement analysis (ESA), indexicality, discourse
Published online: 16 April 2020
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