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Fabricating consent for an ‘adjustment programme’: Crisis narratives of economic journalists in Portugal

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Following Greece and Ireland, and preceding Spain and Cyprus, Portugal has been subject to a troika ‘adjustment programme’ that lasted from mid-2011 to mid-2014. The implementation of the programme was disturbed by unexpected events stemming from internal political tensions, ‘exogenous’ shocks, resistance from the judicial system (the Constitutional Court) and opposition from large sections of the public. As in Greece, the programme was experienced by most as a dramatic and traumatic event. Major actors in this drama have been the troika institutions, the Portuguese government and its supporting parties, the Portuguese opposition parties, trade unions and other social movements. Other actors, namely journalists, arguably also played an important role. This article examines the role played by economic journalists during the so-called adjustment process. It analyses the content of the publications (op-eds) of main Portuguese economic journalists prior to and during the period of implementation of the troika’s programme. It is based on a survey of all the publications (op-eds) of six authors between 1 January 2010 and 30 July 2014. The analysis of the journalists’ texts led to the following conclusions: (1) the texts are rooted in a particular set of core (neo-liberal) beliefs about the economy and its functioning, what we call the ‘consensus view’; (2) the crisis is perceived as an opportunity not to be missed to implement long due reforms aimed at a neo-liberal reshaping of the economy and society and (3) the texts were mainly concerned with deflecting opposition to, or fabricating consent in favour of, the troika’s ‘adjustment’.
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Keywords: Portugal; adjustment programme; austerity; consent; crisis; economic journalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Social Studies of Coimbra University 2: DINÂMIA-CET, ISCTE-IUL

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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