Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



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 (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.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Baker, P., & Ellece, S.
    (2011) Key Terms in Discourse Analysis. New York, NY: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, P., & McEnery, T.
    (2015) Who benefits when discourse gets democratised? Analysing a Twitter corpus around the British Benefits Street debate. InP. Baker & T. McEnery (Eds.), Corpora and Discourse Studies (pp.244–265). Basingstoke: Palgrave. 10.1057/9781137431738_12
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137431738_12 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bauman, Z.
    (2004) Work, Consumerism and the New Poor (2nd edition). Buckingham: Open University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Cassiman, S. A.
    (2008) Resisting the neo-liberal poverty discourse: On constructing deadbeat dads and welfare queens. Sociology Compass, 2(5), 1690–1700. 10.1111/j.1751‑9020.2008.00159.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9020.2008.00159.x [Google Scholar]
  5. Derrida, J.
    (1976) Of Grammatology (G. C. Spivak, Trans.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Fairclough, N.
    (2001) Language and Power (2nd edition). London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Jackson, J.
    (2016, March17). Independent, Mirror, Express and Star Suffer Sharp Fall in Traffic. Guardian. Retrieved fromhttps://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/mar/17/independent-mirror-express-and-star-suffer-sharp-fall-in-traffic (last accessedNovember 2019).
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Jewell, J.
    (2014, November7). Love them or hate them, BTL comments have changed journalism forever. The Conversation. Retrieved fromhttps://theconversation.com/love-them-or-hate-them-btl-comments-have-changed-journalism-forever-33816 (last accessedNovember 2019).
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Katz, M. B.
    (2013) The Undeserving Poor (2nd edition). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Kehoe, A., & Gee, M.
    (2012) Reader comments as an aboutness indicator in online texts: Introducing the Birmingham Blog Corpus. Varieng, 12. Retrieved fromwww.helsinki.fi/varieng/journal/volumes/12/kehoe_gee/ (last accessedNovember 2019).
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Kiesling, S. F.
    (2009) Style as stance. InA. Jaffe (Ed.), Stance: Sociolinguistic Perspectives (pp.171–194). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0008
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331646.003.0008 [Google Scholar]
  12. Levitas, R., Head, E., & Finch, N.
    (2006) Lone mothers, poverty and social exclusion. InC. Pantazis, D. Gordon, & R. Levitas (Eds.), Poverty and Social Exclusion in Britain (pp.405–430). Bristol: The Policy Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Lorenzo-Dus, N., & Marsh, S.
    (2012) Bridging the gap: Interdisciplinary insights into the securitization of poverty. Discourse and Society, 23(3), 274–296. 10.1177/0957926511433453
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926511433453 [Google Scholar]
  14. Lundström, R.
    (2013) Framing fraud: Discourse on benefit cheating in Sweden and the UK. European Journal of Communication, 28(6), 630–645. 10.1177/0267323113502737
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0267323113502737 [Google Scholar]
  15. McKenzie, L.
    (2015) Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain. London: Polity. 10.2307/j.ctt1t8928t
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1t8928t [Google Scholar]
  16. O’Halloran, K.
    (2010) Critical reading of a text through its electronic supplement. Digital Culture and Education, 2(2), 210–229.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Ochs, E.
    (1992) Indexing gender. InA. Duranti & C. Goodwin (Eds.), Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon (pp.335–358). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Paterson, L. L., & Gregory, I. N.
    (2019) Representations of Poverty and Place. Basingstoke: Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑93503‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-93503-4 [Google Scholar]
  19. Paterson, L. L., Coffey-Glover, L., & Peplow, D.
    (2016) Negotiating stance within discourses of class: Reactions to Benefits Street. Discourse & Society, 27(2), 195–214. 10.1177/0957926515611558
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926515611558 [Google Scholar]
  20. Rayson, P.
    (2008) From key words to key semantic domains. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 13(4), 519–549. 10.1075/ijcl.13.4.06ray
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.13.4.06ray [Google Scholar]
  21. (2009) Wmatrix: A web-based corpus processing environment [Computer software]. Computing Department, Lancaster University. Available fromucrel.lancs.ac.uk/wmatrix/ (last accessedNovember 2019).
  22. Roberts, C.
    (2017) The language of ‘welfare dependency’ and ‘benefit cheats’: Internalising and reproducing the hegemonic and discursive rhetoric of ‘benefit scroungers’. InA. Mooney & E. Sifaki (Eds.), The Language of Money and Debt (pp.189–204). Basingstoke: Palgrave. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑57568‑1_8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57568-1_8 [Google Scholar]
  23. Scott, M.
    (1997) PC analysis of key words – and key key words. System, 25(2), 33–245. 10.1016/S0346‑251X(97)00011‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0346-251X(97)00011-0 [Google Scholar]
  24. (2012) WordSmith Tools (Version 6) [Computer software]. Stroud: Lexical Analysis Software.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. (n.d.). Downloading BNC or ANC word lists. Retrieved fromhttps://lexically.net/downloads/BNC_wordlists/downloading%20BNC.htm (last accessedNovember 2019).
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Skeggs, B.
    (1997) Formations of Class and Gender. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Taylor, C.
    (2013) Searching for similarity using corpus-assisted discourse studies. Corpora, 8(1), 81–113. 10.3366/cor.2013.0035
    https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2013.0035 [Google Scholar]
  28. van der Bom, I., Paterson, L. L., Peplow, D., & Grainger, K.
    (2018) ‘It’s not the fact they claim benefits but their useless, lazy, drug taking lifestyles we despise’: Analysing audience responses to Benefits Street using live tweets. Discourse, Context & Media, 21, 36–45. 10.1016/j.dcm.2017.11.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2017.11.003 [Google Scholar]
  29. Wood, H., & Skeggs, B.
    (Eds.) (2011) Reality Television and Class. London: British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): BTL comments; discourse; electronic supplement analysis (ESA); indexicality; poverty
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error