CRJU 20423 Chapter 5: When Crime Waves: Chapter 5

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Criminal Justice
CRJU 20423

When Crime Waves by Sacco Chapter 5: Thats the Rumor I. Introduction a. This chapter is concerned with the ways in which our talk about crime, of all kinds, constructs our understanding of emerging and worsening crime problems. b. When we hear from and tell each other stories about crime, we actively engage in the process of socially constructing crime wave. c. It can be argued that rumors (like other forms of talk about crime) are themselves forms of news. As we will see, rumors, legends, gossip, and other talk about crime can be thought of as improvised news that emerges in contexts in which people lack other kinds of information. II. Talking About Crime a. Wachs argues that, from one perspective, these stories can be understood as cautionary tales intended to alert those who hear them. In this sense, these stories that we tell are coded warnings about the people, places, and situations that one needs to avoid as one negotiates the public spaces of the city. He derived a number of such warnings, including the following: 1. Have a good mental map 2. Be inconspicuous 3. Learn some selfdefense tactics 4. Avoid enclosed areas 5. Cooperate with your assailant b. Telling others about ones victimization or about ones close call might help the individual in question to work through the incident, to deal with questions of self blame, or to understand better why bad things happen to good people. III. Rumors and Legends a. Rumors are brief unsubstantiated bits of information that get passed through social networks. b. Rumors come in many different forms. c. It is important to understand the nature of the relationship between those highly specific rumors that others tell us or that show up in our email boxes and urban legends. IV. The Rumor Process a. One popular answer to why rumors begin locates their origins in the psychological process of individuals. It is argued that rumors develop as individuals endeavor to solve personal problems or as they err in some attempt to make sense of information to which they have access. b. While rumor dissemination can be understood in terms of such individual dimensions, it is perhaps even more important to recognize the extent to which this is a social process. c. Studies of the social process of rumor transmission have attempted to understand how rumors change, grow, or diminish as they are passed from one person to another.
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