Thursday, October 03, 2013

A war on the young? More like a unilateral assualt

In a week or so, we'll be looking at the representation of young people as a social group for our ENGA2 AS English Language lessons, so it's kind of nice of David Cameron to give us some extra ammunition for our classes, even if in the process he's basically sticking two fingers up to every under-25 in the country!

Here's Ally Fogg of The Guardian on Cameron's announcement yesterday:

It would be wrong to think of David Cameron's proposals to take key benefits away from the under-25s as a new initiative. They form merely the latest chapter in a chilling horror story that began shortly after the coalition took the reins, with the tripling of university tuition fees, the abolition of educational maintenance allowance and the future jobs fund, and was still under way this summer when the chancellor's spending review slashed another £260m from the further education budget.

It would be also be a mistake to describe this as a "war on the young" as many commentators have done. A war implies two sides vying for supremacy. This is a strictly unilateral assault, a grand act of persecution. Indeed watching the prime minister singling out unemployed youngsters for uniquely punitive measures while pretending it is for their own good, cheered on by a gang of braying chums, it looks less like the behaviour of a national statesman and more like the petty vindictiveness of a schoolyard bully.
 There's some lovely stuff to analyse in there, not just in the language used to characterise the policy announcement - playing on the semantic field/discourse associated with war and conflict - but in the way he represents Cameron and his "chums".

We'll have a look at the whole way in which discourses around young people are often based on fear, threat and otherness, but in the meantime, this makes a good read.

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