Published on February 24, 2008
WJEC A2 Unit 4, Crime and Deviance Week ?: The Role of the Media and Crime: WJEC A2 Unit 4, Crime and Deviance Week ?: The Role of the Media and Crime Accessibility Statement: Accessibility Statement This slide show has been designed to be user friendly to people with dyslexia and visual impairment. The accessible font Arial is used. Black font on a white background is avoided. Instead, font colour and background have been chosen to complement each other in order to avoid stark contrasts which dyslexic readers find hinders reading. All text is left-justified to avoid ‘rivers of white’. Objectives of Chapter ?: Objectives of Chapter ? Following this Slide Show you should know: That people have both a fear and fascination about crime which is partly shaped by the media. That the media can sensitise issues and help define crime. That the media can both amplify deviance and create moral panics. That crime as a spectacle is increasingly common in Postmodern society. That the media is selective in who and how it treats victims of crime. Fears and Fascinations of Crime : Fears and Fascinations of Crime The media plays an important role in shaping ideas, fears and fascinations about crime in society. Left Realists emphasise there is a real fear of crime by ordinary people which is to a large extent shaped by the media. People’s perception of crime comes from newspapers, tv news, films, magazines, books and programmes like Crimewatch. Geoffrey Pearson: Geoffrey Pearson Geoffrey Pearson (1983) in his book Hooligan claims that the middle-aged of every generation tend to look back nostalgically on the early years of their lives as 'golden ages' of morality. He refers to this nostalgic image of the past as reflecting 'respectable fears’ of becoming a victim of crime, but also a fascination with all aspects of crime. Sensitization of Issues: Sensitization of Issues The media plays a crucial role in ‘sensitising’ the public into perceiving and reporting certain activities as crimes. For example, media attention and ‘zero-tolerance’ campaigns have challenged the idea that domestic violence is not a ‘family matter’ but a crime. Deviancy Amplification: Deviancy Amplification ‘Deviancy amplification’ was coined by Leslie Wilkins (1964) to describe how agencies like the police and media can actually generate an increase in deviance. Minor and rare problems can look serious and common place. People become motivated to keep informed on events. The resulting publicity has potential to increase deviant behaviour by glamourising it or making it seem common or acceptable. Middleton Studies: Middleton Studies Many regard the ‘Middleton Studies’, conducted in the USA in 1925, as perhaps the first example of deviancy amplification. Lynd and Lynd (1929 and 1937) identified how community and religious leaders in small town ‘Middleton’ condemned radio for promoting immoral behaviour. Subsequently, comics, Hollywood films, television, video nasties and most recently the Internet have all been viewed as contributing to deviant and criminal behaviour. Stan Cohen and Moral Panics: Stan Cohen and Moral Panics The term moral panic was developed by Stan Cohen (1970, pictured left). It is based on a false or exaggerated idea that some group’s behaviour is deviant and is a menace to society. ‘Moral panics’ are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues. Cohen used the term ‘folk devil’ to refer to such groups. Cohen’s Study of Mods and Rockers: Cohen’s Study of Mods and Rockers Stan Cohen studied mods and rockers in 1960s. The media developed these groups into ‘folk devils’ and constructed a ‘moral panic’ about young people generally. In the absence of a major story one wet Easter weekend a minor affray in Clacton became front page news. Cohen’s Study of Mods and Rockers (2): Cohen’s Study of Mods and Rockers (2) Symbolisation Exaggeration Prediction (of further trouble) Cohen noted how the media used ‘symbolic shorthands’ such as hair styles, items of clothing, modes of transport, etc as icons of troublemakers. Circular Nature of Moral Panics: Circular Nature of Moral Panics Football Violence: Football Violence The media has been accused not so much of causing football hooliganism, but of ‘amplifying’ or ‘promoting’ the problem. Film crews and reporters have at times provoked fans, especially English fans abroad. Tabloid newspapers throughout the past 20-30 years may be viewed as xenophobic. Media as ‘Moral Crusaders’: Media as ‘Moral Crusaders’ The media, having played a part in constructing a moral panic, may then embark upon a 'moral crusade' against the identified 'folk devils'. The desired outcome is to swell public opinion and for the authorities to embark upon a moral clampdown on deviants. Moral Panics as Ideological Control: Moral Panics as Ideological Control Miller and Reilly (1994) see some moral panics used to soften up public opinion and thus act as a form of 'ideological social control'. For example, the media's coverage of Islamic terrorism is seen by many to promote 'Islamophobia‘. The resulting Government anti-terrorist legislation has received broad public support despite seriously reducing ordinary people's civil liberties. (compare to Hall’s study of mugging) Examples of Moral Panics: Examples of Moral Panics Mods & Rockers (1960s) (Cohen) Mugging in the 1970s (Hall et al). HIV/Aids (1980s). Satanic child abuse (1980s). Heroin and crack cocaine distribution (1980s/1990s). Video-nasties (1980/1990s). Guns (1990s and 2000s) Acid raves, Ecstasy, (1990s) (Thornton and Critcher). Male under-achievement in education (1990s). Asylum seekers (2000s). Islamic terrorism (2000s) Knife crime (2000s) McRobbie and Thornton: Moral Panics are an Outmoded Concept: McRobbie and Thornton: Moral Panics are an Outmoded Concept Crime as a Postmodern Spectacle: Crime as a Postmodern Spectacle Kidd-Hewitt and Osborne (1995) see media reporting of crime increasingly driven by the need for a 'spectacle'. Spectacles are engaging because audiences become both repelled by the activities but fascinated at the same time. Kooistra and Mahoney (1999) argue that media coverage of crime is increasingly a mixture of entertainment and sensationalism (what Neil Postman calls 'infotainment'). Media Treatment of Victims: Media Treatment of Victims The media can be selective in focusing upon some victims more than others. For example old people attacked by strangers in their home often become front page news. But ‘elderly abuse’ (abuse by people old people live with, and estimated by Age Concern (2006) to affect 500,000 old people in the UK) is largely ignored. Media Coverage: Media Coverage Tabloid newspapers negatively target ‘undesirable’ groups such as gypsies and asylum-seekers. Such groups are viewed as “not us” or “other-groups”. The media tends to demonise rapists as evil psychopaths, whereas in reality the majority of victims are raped by men they know, trusted, and often live with. Missing White Woman Syndrome: Missing White Woman Syndrome Missing white woman syndrome, is also known as missing pretty girl syndrome. It is a term coined to describe a form of media hype in which excessive news coverage is devoted to a specific missing white woman or girl. Reporting of these stories often lasts for several days or weeks, and displaces reporting on other newsworthy issues. Black Criminality: Black Criminality The media plays up the image of black offenders, muggers and criminality generally. However, it reports less the fact that the evidence from official statistics suggests that African-Caribbeans and South Asians are twice as likely to be victims of crime as the majority White population. Happy Slapping: Happy Slapping Happy slapping is said to have started in South London, but has spread across the UK, Europe and possibly globally. The term refers to the phenomenon of slapping or striking a stranger while an accomplice films the assault using a camera phone. The image is then sent using the medium of the mobile phone, resulting in copy-cat actions. Marxist Theory on Media and Crime: Marxist Theory on Media and Crime Marxists would argue it is not surprising that moral panics centre around groups viewed as deviant or threatening to the rich and powerful in society They highlight the way the media portrays criminals as working-class, ignoring white-collar or corporate crime. Frankfurt School point to the ideological control the media exerts in perpetuating false consciousness. Louis Althusser would describe the media as an ideological state apparatus. Interpretive Theory on Media and Crime: Interpretive Theory on Media and Crime Interpretive theorists, such as interactionists, emphasize the role of the media in the social construction of news. They view the media as supporting specific arguments with selective evidence and data from appropriate surveys etc. Functionalist and Pluralist Theory on Media and Crime: Functionalist and Pluralist Theory on Media and Crime Functionalists and Pluralists argue the media is simply a ‘window on the world’ reflecting life as it is. Therefore, the media simply reflects a true or real picture of crime. However, critics argue that this is rather naïve given the fact that the real figure of crime is way above the official figure. Feminist Theory on Media and Crime: Feminist Theory on Media and Crime Feminists argue that the media plays down the extent of women as victims of crime. Feminists argue that the sexually explicit representation of women in all forms of pornography (including tabloid newspapers and ‘lads mags’) renders all women potentially unsafe since they encourage predatory attitudes amongst men. Postmodernist Theory on Media and Crime: Postmodernist Theory on Media and Crime Postmodernists see the media as a crucial player in our perception of crime (regardless of whether this perception is accurate or not). They highlight how the media present crime with a mixture of entertainment and sensationalism ('infotainment'). The ultimate expression of this is crime expressed as a spectacle.