Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Examining myths of the mad, bad and sad British veteran in today's media: a qualitative approach.

Phillips, Rita; Connelly, Vince


Vince Connelly


Previous research on British public perceptions of UK veterans has focused mainly on opinion polls and survey data. This is problematic, as the broader scope of public dialogue and discourse that informs and influences public perceptions of veterans remains largely unaddressed. To evaluate how the media frames British veterans, this study systematically assesses media discourse regarding veterans of the British Armed Forces. An inductively driven thematic content analysis of 335 newspaper articles indicates that the media frames veterans in predominantly heroic ways: veterans are heroized by their actions during deployment, the actions of their present lives, or the growth they have experienced from their status as victims. Representations of veterans in such victimized contexts include their suffering from the costs of war, from institutional injustices, from social callousness, and from their desperation for assistance from charitable organizations. We find that UK veterans are framed by the media in overly positive or negative terms and that factual information on them remains largely ignored. Such depictions may have negative consequences for veterans' reintegration into civilian society.


PHILLIPS, R. and CONNELLY, V. 2021. Examining myths of the mad, bad and sad British veteran in today's media: a qualitative approach. Journal of political and military sociology [online], 48(1), pages 73-96. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 11, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2022
Publication Date Dec 31, 2021
Deposit Date Nov 29, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 29, 2021
Journal Journal of political and military sociology
Print ISSN 0047-2697
Electronic ISSN 2642-2190
Publisher University of Florida Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 48
Issue 1
Pages 73-96
Keywords Veterans and society; Veterans in the media; Media and society; Veteran psychology
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations