“Whoever controls the media controls the mind” (Jim Morrison 1943-1971).excellent quote i had forgotten that one To establish a view on how social order is produced, in this essay the main focus will be on two researcher’s arguments both on social disorder specifically in regard to the influence of the mass media. Sociologist Stanley Cohen (1973) suggests that the media depiction of antisocial behaviour helps to construct what he labels ‘folk devils’. Whilst social scientists Stuart Hall et al (1978) argued that the mediation of disorderly behaviour led to the belief that society was in a ‘crisis’. By using my own examples and illustrations I will compare and contrast these two theories and furthermore for differentiation include a more present-day theory on social disorder through Huesmann et al 2003. Thereby through an examination of mediation (media spin) on disorderly behaviour attempt to define how one part of social order is produced in public spaces.
Good clear introduction Sociologist Stanley Cohen’s theory on ‘folk devils’ which he first observed during the 1960’s media portrayal of Mods and Rockers (Making Social lives ,p378) gives an interesting oblique view on how social order is maintained, as according to is theory certain members of the public are classified as outsiders and treat like scapegoats. describe the theory a little bit here The evidence for this can be found as far back as ancient Greece Aristotle’s ‘unruly youths’ (Brake, 1980, p.1) Along with “fears of skilled pickpockets progressing to become burglars in the sixteenth century” (Shore, 2000, p. 21) and as near to our times is the example of Gypsy travellers who are and have been given the dubious pleasure of being one of the “carriers” of social evil and disorder of our days. Good use of examples This Sun headline (March 2005) on the right is just one of the many stereotypical images of gypsies, blown out of all proportion by mass media mediation and an example of that which is coined by Cohen as generating moral panic that is irrational and creates a situation “where people are both terrified and outraged” (Cohen, Making Social lives,p378).
This use of inflammatory rhetoric with regards to gypsies is still being currently employed today as a Sun reporter reports he “found a community brimming with fear and anger – and villagers hell-bent on getting rid of them (Sun May 2011). These headlines from the mass media (public space) with regard to gypsies whom historically have many times been the focal point of European society’s ills and represented as’ folk devils’ very good The media campaigns of hostility against these ‘folk devils’ have not only produced moral panic “a pattern of behaviour, group of people or a condition becomes defined as a threat to society, its values and its interests” (Making Social lives, p371). This on-going mass media campaign against gypsies resulted in change the nation’s politics and laws to re-address social order. Such, as under sections 77-80 of the 1994 Act, [local authorities may direct persons who are unlawfully residing in vehicles on land in their own area to leave.]
This an attempt to renew social order with regards to gypsies and thus allaying public fear.very good The media also played a significant role in sociologists Stuart Hall’s and co-authors (Policing the Crisis (1978) theory. Hall believed that the issue of crime was instrumental in controlling society and that the media constructions “contributed to a widespread belief that there was a crisis in society” (Making (Social lives, p378). As an illustration of some of the biased press coverage of street crime is a picture portrayed by this Sun image (Dec 2010) Hall surmises that this is how the media wishes to portray these issues to the public, as a rise in crime and disorder which can and should be treat by the government with greater policing measures and laws, which Hall terms the beginning of a “Law and Order Society” (Social lives, p378).
He goes on to infer that media spin is used to distort and divert public attention from the clear problems of social injustice and inequality and that this aids government on social order policies. Evidence for this Law and Order society can be found with the introduction of the SUS (Stop and Search) powers that were used at their height when 1000 youths were stopped and searched in 5 days in what the police called “Operation Swamp”(bbc. Home, 25th Nov. 1981).well researched This resulted in the escalation of confrontation between the community and the police due to the locals perceiving an inequality and persecution of young blacks and this sparked off the Brixton race riots (1981). The outcome culminated in the renewal of social order with the abolition of the SUS law (1981). However they returned in another form due to 9/11 and 7/7 attacks to combat terrorism in 2007. To compare and contrast Cohen and Halls views on mass media mediation and how the social order is maintained through public spaces it will be shown by examining that they have differences and similarities.
Where both Cohen and Hall agree with regard to their theories on the issue of mediation (public spaces) is that they both believe that the focus of the mass media places spin on how social and criminal deviants (muggers) are portrayed. Also they both rely on labels to support their social disorder theories i.e. folk devil and muggers and furthermore characterising them as stereotypes. Moreover they continue to agree that the media exaggerates and amplifies and create’ scapegoats’ whose behaviours good example of compare and contrast are demonised with resulting effect on social order of creating ‘moral panic’ on the one hand and a sense of ‘crisis in society’ on the other. Where they greatly disagree is on the root causes of moral panics and social crisis in that Cohen with very little supporting evidence, believed cultural anxiety was to blame (Making Social Lives, Table 1, p383,).
Whilst Hall thought that the blame led elsewhere with his inference to social inequality and racism and that the media served the state in diverting attention away from these genuine social problems (ibid).good In contrast to both Cohen and Hall’s views on the mediation of ‘social disorder’ and the foundation of their theories on moral panic and society in crisis there is a view that has an alternative reason as to why and how the media can play a significant role in shaping social order in public spaces. This alternative view comes from the analysis of a longitudinal study (Making Social Lives, p381) by Huesmann et al on media effects, and in particularly how Huesmann and his team found a correlation between 557 children and the watching of violence on TV and a subsequent increase in propensity for aggressive behaviour in 398 of these same studied people.
Therefore Huesmann et al. (2003) reached the conclusion on disorderly behaviour that there is a direct effect of media portrayal of violence. From this you can argue that in Huesmann’s view, media and mediation through public space in this case TV. can have a major negative role in the shaping of social order in society, by desensitising and normalising disorderly behaviour. Although there is no real causation evidence for these claims in Huesmann’s study and that the conclusion drawn on the media impact of television violence a chimera of other social factors very good expand on this a little. Thereby through the examination of Cohen/Halls theories on mediation (media spin) on disorderly behaviour the following can be gleaned with regard to how one part of social order is produced in public spaces. Established norms of behaviour are created and exist in society supported by mass media and this sometimes leads to an increase in social pressure which is built up with a resulting increase in policing and law legislation (SUS laws).
These societal norms are reinforced by media scapegoating of social and criminal deviants, Cohen’s ‘folk devils’ and Halls ‘muggers’. Although there are others (Huesmann et al) who believe that the shaping of social order in society is more directly influenced by TV violence alone. The methodology utilised in this essay was to shed light on the making of social order in public spaces through looking at two main theories on disorderly behaviour. And it has highlighted in my view that quite possibly genuine social problems and solutions are obscured by mediation resulting in legislation that deals with only the symptoms not the causes “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power, because they control the minds of the masses” (Malcolm X (1925-1965).
Cohen, S. (1973) Folk Devils and Moral Panics, London, Paladin. Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J. and Roberts, B. (1978) Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order, London and Basingstoke, Macmillan. Huesmann, R., Moise-Titus, J., Pdolski, C-L. And Eron, L. (2003) ‘Longitudinal relations between children’s exposure to TV violence and their aggressive and violent behaviour in young adulthood: 1977–1992’, Developmental Psychology, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 201–23. Google Image, News.bbc.co.uk, accessed 24th /26th May 2011
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