This paper critically examines the role of mass media in propagating, interpreting and legitimating the neoliberal economic policies of post-apartheid South Africa. It employs Stuart Hall's concepts of signification and ideological theory of the media as a framework for understanding how the South African print media construct and reconstruct economic policy debates. Using Norman Fairclough's critical discourse analysis, the paper examines how the media coverage of the 2002 Cosatu national strike against privatisation legitimated three tenets of neoliberalism—globalisation, efficiency and flexibility—while delegitimating organised labour's socialist ideology. In doing so, the mass media rendered as common sense and natural the logic of the contemporary neoliberal global economy.
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