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Violence, and the Media

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Western University
Sociology 3321F/G

Aggression, Violence, and the Media • Violence is portrayed in music lyrics, music videos, video games, cartoons, television shows, and movies. A 1996 report found that 85 percent of premium channel shows, 59 percent of basic cable shows, and 44 percent of broadcast channel shows included at least one act of violence. • Such media images may desensitize individuals to violence and serve as models for violent behavior. Exposure to television violence is associated with increased aggressive behavior and decreased sensitivity to the pain and suffering of others. • There are a number of ways to understand the connection between mass media images and real-life violence: 1) Although most scholars do not believe that the media directly cause aggressive behavior in people, some studies have shown a relationship between short-term aggressive behavior and media depictions of violence. 2) Other studies have suggested that the media may actually prevent acts of violence by providing people with an outlet for pent-up feelings and emotions. According to this cathartic effect hypothesis, the media offer people a vicarious outlet for feelings of aggression and thus may reduce the amount of violence engaged in by the media consumer. 3) Still other analysts have suggested that continual depictions of violence tend to desensitize viewers and create values that contribute to aggressive behavior and feelings of fear and frustration. Theories of Media Effects 1) Functionalism – Functionalists examine the functions performed by the mass media that help to maintain social stability: a) Coordination – The nationwide distribution of newspapers, magazines, movies, and television shows cements the large, socially diverse, and geographically far-flung population o
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