Vehkalahti, Pertti
Title:To work, though it would be unprofitable. Critical discourse analysis on the publicity of "The Page of the Unemployed" in Aamulehti. Töihin vaikka omaksi tappioksi. Aamulehden "Työttömän sivun" julkisuus kriittisen diskurssianalyysin kohteena.
Published in:Tiedotustutkimus
Volume/Part:23, 4/2000
Type:Published works
Keywords:unemployment, discourse analysis
No electronic version available.

      Vehkalahti's article, that is based on his master thesis, shows how unemployment discourse works in media texts. "The Page of the Unemployed" in Aamulehti - one of the main newspapers in Finland - appeared in 1993-95 and tried to deal with unemployment from the point of view of the unemployed. Vehkalahti points out that the actors in the published articles were mostly unemployed who took part in organizational activities (36% of actors). Unemployed without such connections were mostly excluded from publicity. The three ways in which unemployed were presented on "The Page of the Unemployed" were 1) as an active member of (unemployment)organization, 2) as informant telling about his/her economic and psychic survival and 3) as an unemployed who has been able to get a job.
      Through the discourse capitalism is naturalised as a part of the order of nature making unemployment something outside the economic and political control. By leaving politicians and employers outside the page, unemployment is being reconstructed as individual search and fight for gaining a meaning of life, that is work (which represents safety and continuity). The discourse of one's own activity positions the unemployed in relation to passivity: either one is a "zero-liner", who stays invisible, apathetic, at home and who is responsible for his/her own unemployment or one chooses to be "activist" wanting to have a job and being interested in public activities. The symbol-jungle discourse gives the unemployed the position of a victim: legislation, politics and authorities are presented as obstacles in the way of getting a job. Indirectly the discourse gives base for politics of deregulation. Vehkalahti states that the circle of by being active becoming victim and passive and thus becoming a "zero-liner" could and should be deconstructed by journalism that would create dialogs between different actors, by discursively deconstructing the status of work as the core of meaningful life or as an object of competition and by criticizing the economic system and the nation state that are usually taken as context for granted.
Last Modified: 15.04.2002