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CRIM 1650 (18)


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York University
CRIM 1650
Anna Pratt

CRIM 1650 NOTES KAPPELERThe Social Construction of Crime Myths crime is a social construct thats made possible through moral entrepreneurs claims makers media government etc Two perspectives explain the existence of a social problem1Individuals who have vested interests in an issue bring the problem to publics attentioncharacterized as claimsmakers moral entrepreneurs etcadvocate formal social policy to address the new problem which they feel is unique real and grave 2Perspective by those who study the construction of social problemsproblems constructed from collective definitions rather than individual views and perceptions Myth traditional story with a historical basis that explains some practice belief or event often reveal underlying ideals and tell us more about our social and cultural values than they do about any particular circumstancemore often instruct us on how to integrate an event into our beliefsystemFiction in crime myth comes not from fabrication of events but from the transformation and distortion of those events into social and political problems Events gain their persuasiveness and motivating power from their larger than life qualityPower of crime myths come from their seemingly natural explanations of crimeThe Functions of Crime MythsCrime myths are powerful constructions of reality because they speak to our personal values and beliefs and are steeped in rich symbolism which reinforces those values and beliefsProvide us with a conceptual framework from which to identify certain social issues as crime related to develop our personal opinions on issues of justice and to apply readymade solutions to social problemsCatalog Social ActorsCrime myths catalog social actors into artificial distinctions between lawabiding citizens criminals crime fights and victimsMyths condemn others and reinforce selfperception through contrastReinforce Existing Social ArrangementsOnce a crime myth has been generated and accepted by the public it provides the foundation to generate other myths of crime and justiceThis can prevent defining issues accurately exploring new solutions or finding alternatives to existing socially constructed labels and crime control practicesCrime myths fill gaps in knowledge and provide answers to questions social science either cannot answer or has failed to address Myth imperatively guides action and establishes patterns of behaviourReconcile Contradictions Myths are conceptual schemes that assist us in interpretingreality and organizing our thoughts and beliefs about reality EXAMPLE prisons do not rehabilitate offenders and released inmates often commit additional crimes However our solution to crime is to enhance punishment and incarcerate people more Create Collective Belief SystemBroad social myths make our constrictions of criminal justice and response to crime seem reasonable and unchallengeable Crime myths tell us who we are by constructing criminals they tell us what we value and they tell us what we should do about any challenges in social arrangementsPOWERFUL MYTHMAKERSThe mass media government and reform groups select our crime problems for us and focus our attention on social issuesThe largest and most powerful mythmakers are the mass media Media as a Mythmaker modern mass communication system has enabled unprecedented numbers of myths to spreadtechnology has enhanced our ability to generate refine distribute and reinforce mythsincreased ability to project myths and the tendency to localize them have been accompanied by a shrinking number of people who control the means and mediums of myth productionthe selection of crime problems is often limited to the most bizarre problem a journalist or investigator can uncover by promoting unique and fascinating issues the media insures marketability and successwhenever examples substitute for definitions there is a risk that our understanding of the problem will be distorted Using the worst case to characterize a social problem encourages us to view that case as typical and to think about the problem in extreme terms Yellow Journalism practice of using sensational stories to attract reader and increase profitWe problematize events turning particular criminal acts into examples of types of crimes EXAMPLE Central Park Joggerattackers were wilding Government as Mythmaker
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