Topic 7 - Crime and the media


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Media representations of crime:
The media over-represent violent and sexual crime - Ditton and Duffy - 46% of media reports were
about violent crime yet these only made up 3% of all recorded crimes
The media portray criminals and victims as older and more m/c - than those typically found in the CJS -
Felson: the 'age fallacy'
The media exaggerate the risk of victimisation - especially to women, white people and high status
The media overplay extraordinary crimes and underplay ordinary crimes - Felson: the 'dramatic fallacy'
News values and crime coverage:
News is a social construct: Cohen and Young - news is not discovered, but manufactured
News values influencing crime stories include: immediacy, dramatisation, risk, violence and
Fictional representations of crime:
Criminals and victims follow 'the law of opposites' (Surette) - opposite of OCS and similar to news
coverage (e.g. violence, drugs and sex crimes over-represented)
However, new trends note that: there is an increasing tendency to show police as corrupt and victims
have been more central
The media as a cause of crime:
Rap lyrics and computer games have been criticised for encouraging violence and criminality
How the media may cause crime and deviance:
imitation - deviant role models resulting in copy-cat behaviour (e.g. Aurora Shooting 2012)
By transmitting knowledge of criminal techniques
Stimulating desires for unaffordable goods (through advertising)
However... studies have tended to find that exposure to media violence has at most, a small and limited
negative effect on audiences (e.g. Bandura's BoBo Doll Experiment)
Fear of crime:
There are concerns that the media may be distorting the public's impression of crime and consequently
causing an unrealistic fear of crime (Heidensohn: sensationalist media reporting of rape adds to
women's fear of being a victim of crime)
However Sparks notes 'media effects' research ignores the meanings that viewers gives to media
The media, relative deprivation and crime:
Media advertising of consumer goods stimulates the sense of relative deprivation and social exclusion -
Merton: pressure to consumer to the norm can cause deviant behaviour
Global cyber crime:
Cyber-Crime (computer-mediated activities that are either illegal or considered illicit and that are
conducted through global electronic networks)
Jewkes ­ the internet creates opportunities to commit both conventional crimes and new crimes using
new tools
Wall ­ 4 categories of cybercrime:
1. Cyber-trespass: crossing boundaries into other's cyber-property (e.g. viruses)
2. Cyber-deception and theft ­ including identity theft and violation of intellectual property rights
3. Cyber-Pornography ­ including porn involving minors and opportunities for children to access porn
on the net
4. Cyber-violence ­ doing psychological harm or inciting physical arm
It's very difficult to police cyber crime due to the size of the Internet and its globalised nature HOWEVER
Moral panics:
An exaggerated over-reaction by society to a perceived problem where the reaction enlarges the problem out
of all proportion to its real seriousness ­ Stan Cohen argues that the media are involved in the creation of
moral panics. This inevitably leads to the creation of a folk devil (threat to societal values)
Mods and Rockers:

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According to the media, the violence between the mods and rockers was national problem that
represented the decay of society however Cohen found that:
1. The `violence' that the media reported was minimal
2. The majority of young people at the seaside during the so-called riots were not mods and
3.…read more


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