Mainstream News Media's Engagement with Friedrich Engels’s Concept of Social Murder

Keywords: social murder, Friedrich Engels, health inequalities, capitalism, news media


Literature now exists on how the media reports on health inequalities. One compelling concept as to the sources and impacts of health inequalities is “social murder” as articulated by Friedrich Engels in his 1845 volume, The Condition of the Working Class in England, whereby the capitalist economic system sent workers prematurely to the grave to serve the profit motives of the bourgeoisie. There is a reemergence of the concept in the academic literature in response to growing social and health inequalities, but is this material being reported to the public? We examine news content since the turn of the 21st century and find a significant increase since 2017 in reporting that evokes the social murder concept in relation to the Grenfell Tower Fire, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the imposition of austerity in Canada and the UK. We consider these developments in relation to journalists’ roles and their reporting on health inequalities.