Bras. Political Sci. Rev.. 15/Mar/2016;10(1):e0002.
Elite Framing of Inequality in the Press: Brazil and Uruguay Compared
Current elite studies argue that inequality produces negative externalities to elites, who may either promote democracy or adopt authoritarian measures in order to shield their interests from the actions of the rebellious poor. This article argues that elite framing of poverty and inequality in the press is a good thermometer of elite public response to such externalities. The press represents a communication tool shared by elites in the state, market, civil society, and, most evidently, the media itself. If inequality threatens elite rule, elites should share their concerns in order to move towards a solution. Since the literature links inequality and elite response, I propose undertaking a comparison of elite public responses to poverty and inequality in two South American cases with opposite records of inequality: Brazil and Uruguay. The article approaches elite framing of poverty and inequality in the press by analyzing opinion pieces and editorials in the main newspapers of both countries. Results invert the expected link between inequality and elite response. Elite framing of inequality in the Brazilian press did not suggest elite concern with externalities, neither an elite turn towards more democracy or authoritarianism. Contrastingly, a few Uruguayan elites did frame the poor as menacing.