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Representations of British armed forces veterans in the press: a quantitative analysis of newspaper articles.

Phillips, Rita; Connelly, Vince; Burgess, Mark


Vince Connelly

Mark Burgess


Previous research has shown that British public perception of veterans can be negative and erroneous. Surveys, for example, indicate that veterans are characterized as skilled and valorous individuals but also as suffering from ill-health, unemployment, and homelessness. To investigate how these beliefs may form, the present study examines the public dimension of knowledge by analyzing depictions of veterans in the media. A total of 335 newspaper articles that represent British veterans were downloaded from Google News and UKPressonline. After the articles were classified with a content analysis, chi-square tests were conducted to understand how the representation of veterans may be related to the political affiliations of news agencies and by newspaper format. The results suggest that British veterans are predominantly represented in both heroic and victimizing contexts. While political affiliation did not affect the representation of veterans significantly, newspaper format did, with broadsheet (quality) newspapers emphasizing victimized contexts and local and international newspapers focusing on heroic contexts, with tabloids occupying a middle ground. In conclusion, broadsheet newspapers may express sociocultural scrutiny toward the ways in which veterans are treated, while local and international newspapers may focus on stereotypical representations of heroic British military actions that veterans may symbolize. Implications and conclusions are discussed.


PHILLIPS, R., CONNELLY, V. and BURGESS, M. 2020. Representations of British armed forces veterans in the press: a quantitative analysis of newspaper articles. Journal of political and military sociology [online], 47(1), pages 77-98. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 20, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 22, 2021
Publication Date Dec 31, 2020
Deposit Date Aug 11, 2020
Publicly Available Date Aug 11, 2020
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 47
Issue 1
Pages 77-98
Keywords Veterans; Conception; British public; Media; Representation
Public URL


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