Understanding media in today’s world is more than intellectual exercise, it is essential survival skill in a world that has been absolutely changed by mass communication. Hundreds of studies have shown that viewing violence in the media can influence destructive behavior. This paper will review research involving the relationship between the media and violence. Since, women’s issue to violence embodies many areas of social life and is very much rampant and relevant in our society today; violence to women will be used for the representation for this paper.
After taken into account, the finding will show that the rising of media and the violence among women in the society has strong significant effect. Introduction In 2003, Allan Menzies stabbed his best friend, drank his blood and ate part of his skull. Utterly this murder was different from the many horrible murders that are committed. Menzies claimed that the character, Akasha, from the vampire film Queen of the Damned had told him to kill his friend as a way of gaining immortality.
Menzies was possessed with the film and had viewed it over 100 times before “acting on the orders” of the vampire queen (Robertson 2003). The case of Menzies certainly demonstrates the intimate relationship between media and violence. However, violence news is often selective and distorted, giving an inaccurate picture of violence in society. This observation has led Warr (2000:482) to argue that “violence rests on highly uncertain information about risk” In fact, Fields and Jerin (1999) carried out a comparative analysis of violence coverage in newspapers in fourteen different countries.
In the US, they found evidence of misinterpretation, overrepresentation of violent, heavy reliance on “official” sources, false image of police effectiveness, uniform crime coverage, lack of educational value, racial prejudice and/or stereotyping, and little coverage of corrections. This is a significant finding as the majority of citizens only have symbolic rather than experiential knowledge about violence. Consequently, when the media are the primary knowledge distributors about violence, distortions such as these are readily available to construct public perceptions.
And because the consequences of violence can be severe, these perceptions can lead to an increased concern about violence victimization. This “resonance” hypothesis argues that the media “cultivate” a threatening view of the world, which compounds preexisting violence (Bagdikian, 2000). Literature Review This literature review will introduce the theoretical perspectives that will guide this study in understanding the construction of a gendered crime “reality”.
The key concepts of social constructioinism and feminist criminology will be explained and will be illustrated in relation to fear of crime. The connection between the media and fear of crime will be explain with an emphasis on the distortion of knowledge, audience effects, and media content and claims. Further, the effects of political economy on discursive transformations in the presentations of crimes will be address. Impact of the Media
The media has the potential for far greater impact than interpersonal communication, if only because of the larger audience and the professional nature of the messages. The impact might be seen in audience pleasure or buying behavior or it might be seen in an unintentional effect such as young child’s imitating the violent behavior seen in a favorite T. V. show or video game (Rodman, 2006). This impact becomes the part of the feedback sent to the source, perhaps as news reports about studies into effects of media. Social Theory, Media, and Violence
The relationship between violence and the media is complex. For example, Barak, (1994) finds that although the press does not present a consistently biased impression of media and violence through their process of selection, he discovers little evidence to suggest that this is very influential on public perceptions of, and opinions about, these phenomena. On the other hand, Sheley (1995) argues that the media responds to and stimulates violence and are probably the single greatest influence on public attitudes about the topic.
However, both social constructionists and radical feminist criminologists see the mass media as particularly relevant when studying violence, as the meaning and significance attached to a violent event during its commission can be transformed entirely once it is communicated into society. As Stanko (1992:14) notes: The full social and personal consequences of violence can never be deduced from the simple enumeration of risks.
Like other human experiences they necessarily involve representation, communication and attribution of significance and it is for this reason that the understanding of the character and uses of mass media may be able not simply to help explain the distribution of expressed fears but also to illuminate their nature and implications. The significance of this violence as it relates to culture needs to be taken into consideration in order to understand the transformations commonly found in media narratives over time.
In addition, a “lack of sensitivity to media-generated reality-constructing processes has serious real-world implications” (Surette, 1998:271). Heavy violence coverage in the media can not only increase public fear, it can also direct much public discourse on the violent issue which leads to stereotypical views of violence, shapes certain violent as social problems, and limits violence control options (Barak, 1998:44). Working within the social constructionist paradigm, I argue that effect of violence is a social process rather than a social fact: reactions to violence are subjective and dynamic.
Not only are these reactions based on the actions of certain social groups who have the power to set forth their own interests over others, and who employ “experts” to offer professional credibility to support their claims, but they are also based on dominant cultural ideologies. In turn, the media disseminates these “truth” claims as they see fit, creating a “conceptual reality” for public consumption. I consider this constructed reality and its relation to violence exploding: Who are constructed as deviant “outsiders? ” What claims and claims-makers are central to the discourse?
What preferred rules does the media maintain? Who is given the most voice to speak authoritatively? In the hierarchy of violence, what is the “master of offence? ” Do the violent messages discuss possible solutions to violence? Are the violent messages sensationalistic? Are random violence reported the most often? Research Question and Aim of this Research This proposal will examine how the media constructs fear of crime for women, and explains why. It will employ both content and textual analyses to evaluate media representations of crime and their role in facilitating images of fear and safety.
Moreover, I will utilize feminist criminology and social constructionism to allow an evaluation of claims-making activities and gendered crime myths. Ultimately, the aim of this research is to examine how the media are constructed as sites of fear for women. To accomplish this, I would like to answer the following questions: 1. Do crime messages signify fear of crime? 2. How do the media define fear and reveal its meaning to audience members? Is this “reality” contested over time, and if so, why?
Hypotheses: The meaning associated with women’s danger and safety in news narratives are socially constructed through claims, sources, content and culture, making the “social reality of crime” a human accomplishment. Method Design I will analyze an issue of a three popular women’s magazines as my primary data for violent messages since it embodies many areas of social life, making it culturally significant. Moreover, magazines give a less fragmented picture of the total violence phenomenon than say newspapers, and their documentary style gives a more elaborate perspective than the information oriented style of newspapers.
The analysis will be done through content analysis. Data Collection Procedure Magazines represented a variety of violence narratives as “newsworthy. ” That is, these magazines found violence to be interesting or exciting enough to attract and inform consumers, and therefore violence narratives were considered important elements when producing the news. Among the violent messages such as; sexual brutality received almost one-half (50%) of the coverage. This included; rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment/discrimination.
The reporters often evinced the personal accounts of those who were victims. This added an emotional dimension to the narratives; bringing to the reader an “eyewitness” account, rather than an “objective” report of the facts. Child abuse, which included physical and emotional abuse, followed closely in frequency (25 %), while domestic violence (8%) and murder (7%) remained minor but persistent narratives. Magazines reporters also wrote about criminal justice issues such as the death penalty and victimology (3. 5%). Violent such as burglary (3.
0%), juvenile delinquency (2. 0%), and illicit drug use (1. 5%) were infrequently in the news stories, and other crimes, such as fraud and kidnapping, were not mentioned in all three magazines. News, Sources, and the Production of Meaning Various sources of knowledge about violent, law and violence justice were represented in the news making process to create meaning. There were five types of sources used by reporters to construct violence narratives. First, government sources were cited in 60 percent of the violence articles.
Representatives of the violence justice system, such as police, lawyers, judges, and correctional officials, were used as sources in nearly one-third (33%) of all violence articles. Less frequently, other government agencies, such as social workers and child welfare/ protection services were offered as knowledge sources by reporters (5%). As well, politicians, or elected officials, were occasionally used to supply knowledge (2%). Gender and Violence Narratives Media violence depictions were consistently gendered and women’s fear of violence was constantly constructed and reconstructed.
“Intimate danger” was portrayed in 62. 6 % of the violence messages; “stranger danger” was highlighted in only 23. 2 percent of the news stories and 14. 2 percent of the narratives did not mention danger in all. In all time frames, intimate danger was more commonly constructed than was stranger danger. Intimate danger was present in over half of all articles. Overwhelmingly, familiar dangers were most newsworthy. Sex was ultimately connected to danger in the media discourses with over half (60%) of all violence messages signifying it. Over different time frames, sexual danger was present in 62.
5 % of all articles. A discourse of sexual inequality in an issue of the three different popular women’s magazines also contributed to the gendered nature of violence. One-fourth, (25%) of all crime articles connected sexual inequality to violence. This suggests that women’s fear of violence was linked to their subordinate status, and can best be understood in the context of broader social inequalities. In sum, the media instructed women to be most fearful people they knew in their own home, to fear violence of sexual nature and foremost, and to fear for themselves, but also for others.
Violence and Media Coverage The crime reports in an issue of the three popular women’s magazines consistently supplied readers with the resources needed to understand and comprehend violence, particularly on a social and environmental level. By explaining the source and foundations for violence, journalists did not leave readers asking “why. ” And by demonstrating how to cope with violence, audience members were given solutions that could ultimately be used to exert some control over their own lives.
As a result, the news narratives presented violence as both avoidable and manageable. Further, violence accounts were presented in a manner that kept the audience informed about violent and violence justice issues without relying on dramatic flair. In sum, violence and violent justice was framed, in form and content, around an ideology of violence against women, this constructed a gendered nature of fear. This required sourcing the news in a specific manner in order to produce journalists` preferred meaning.
For the most part, a central objective for journalists was to inform the audience about the broader social forces that influenced violence as it related to women: the violent event was a means to educate the reader about the foundation of crime and its prevention. Data Analysis and Expected Results In the production of news, news coverage was shaped according to the journalists` particular conceptions of violence. Extensive and various sources merged to define violent danger, establishing a version of the social reality of violent that differed considerably from other mediums of knowledge.
For example, a sense of societal responsibility to end violence against women often guided the newsmaking process, unlike the majority of mainstream newspaper and television violent reports that individualized the predator criminal (Surette, 2004). The violence accounts in an issue of the three popular women’s magazines had a definite feminist agenda: to acknowledge the obstacles and inequality inherent within law and violence justice practices, and to support social and legal resolutions that eliminated male violence against women.
By providing violence coverage from an experiential standpoint, and exposing myths commonly associated with women’s violence, journalists helped to reconstruct alternative violence news. In sum, two distinct patterns of news reporting will be observed throughout this research. Both patterns communicated violence and violence justice according to the journalists` “sense” of the issues: their preferred meanings, constructed through particular discursive arrangements, helped to construct different versions of the “reality” of violent risk.
The dominant reporting style of the news in an issue of three popular women’s magazines promoted a feminist critique of women’s fear of violence based on women’s own experiences that downplayed indicators of fear and encouraged an informed understanding of the violence phenomenon. Rather than constructing random men as the source of danger, the “true” offenders will be reported to be sexism, ineffective laws, and a violence justice system that supported male violence against women.
However, a minor and subordinate pattern of news reporting emerged that “mystified” the issue of violence and prohibited the consideration of contexts or alternatives. These constructions in the news coverage eventually reflected information and interpretations that supported official sources, changing the underlying ideology of social reform to self-responsibilization for violence. Conclusion In summary, by pursuing these research directions a greater understanding of the complex issues surrounding violence in the media will be advanced.
Further knowledge about readers, news workers and policy makers will explicate the effects of gender, news production processes, and political influence on media images. Such multifaceted analyses serve to extend the understanding of media violence as a social construct. References Bagdikian, B. (2000). The media monopoly, 6th ed. Boston: Beacon Press. Barak, G. (1998). Newsmaking criminology: Reflections on the media, intellectuals, and crime. Justice Quarterly 5: 565-87. Barak, G. (1994). Media, process, and the social construction of crime. New York: Garlan
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