Crime & Media Week 4.docx

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General Education Studies
Danielle Tyson

The Media & Fear of Crime KEY TERMS Critical criminology. Emphasises the relationship between routine, everyday life, and the surrounding social structures. Fear of crime. State of anxiety/alarm brought about by the feeling that one is at risk of criminal victimisation. Left realism. Radical criminological perspective that views crime as a natural and inevitable outcome of class inequalities and patriarchy and which proposes to take both crime and fear of crime seriously. Legitimacy. Process by which a group/institution achieves and maintains public support for its actions. Policing. Diverse array of tasks, skills and procedures involving monitoring, regulation, protection and enforcement. Victimisation. Experience of being a victim of crime. Penal populism. Notion that, with declining faith in the formal structures and procedures of the CJ establishment and growing alarm that crime is out of control, the public support more punitive and retributive crime control and sentencing policies. Crime on the rise?  Large majority of the public have inaccurate views about the occurrence of crime and the severity of sentencing. o Media presents crime stories in ways which selectively mutilate and distort public perceptions – creates a false picture of crime.  Majority of Australians believe crime is on the rise when it isn’t. o Less than 10% of all crimes are violent but 19/20 say it is higher than this. o Begs the question, why is there such a gap between public perception and official statistics.  People who rely on the entertainment media have less accurate perceptions of crime than people who use others. o Suggests the media are guilty of manipulating the picture of crime (not just statistics, public fears of crime).  Interpersonal crime are consistently overreported – because particularly violent and sexual events are consistently over represented in relation to official statistics.  Police reinforce what journos write and journos write what police show them.  Not only news media that distorts, popular culture exercises a significant influence on our view of crime. o Contains a large amount of info and images pertaining to fear, and some audience and readers who digest them perceive social life as being dangerous.  They over represent the most serious crimes.  The nature of this relationship between media and fear of crime is unresolved. The mass media and the production of fear  Mass media and popular culture exercise significant influence on social life.  Whether or not we can resolve the question whether TV and newspaper reports about crime and fear are a “cause” or “effect” of public concerns about crime and fear, two things are clear: o Pop culture includes a relatively large amount of info and images pertaining to fear, including crime and violence. o Audience members perceive social life as very dangerous. o But the relationship between the two is unresolved and is the subject of much discussion and debate in crime and the media scholarship. Different perspectives on fear of crime  Within criminology, discussions of public fears of crime tend to be polarised along theoretical lines:  Critical criminological – Marxist (Cohen, Hall): o Emphasise media’s role in agenda setting. o While the mass media is not a singular force for promoting dominant conservative ideologies; rather, these are the product of intense conflict between various agents involved. o The result – particularly in tabloid media and broadcast radio, is the simplification of the problem and an emphasis on law enforcement solutions. o The media’s manipulation of fear of crime results in “penal populism” or “popular punitivism”. o Conclude that fear of crime is irrational and unreasonable. o Holds that what the public perceive are influenced by the people in power. o Concerned about how the powerless are over policed – overconcentration of crimes that focus on the young, non-Anglo, working class, unemployed, etc. – lack of focus of crime involving, white, educated and upper class. o See it as a product of intense conflict – argue that the result of this there’s an oversimplification and overemphasis on law and order policies. Tell public they’re scared and then say they’re going to take a law and order approach to make it better. o By highlighting the crime problems, they effective
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