Examine how the media causes crime -21 Marks.
We live today in a media- saturated society. The media are all around us and crime is the central theme of their output, both fiction and non-fiction. Crime and deviance make up a large percentage of news coverage. For example, Richard Ericson et al’s study of Toronto found that 45-71% of quality press and radio news was about various forms of deviance and its control, while Williams and Dickinson found British newspapers allocate up to 30% of their news space to crime. However, many question whether media causes criminality.
There are frequent ways in which the media might possibly cause crime and deviance and this includes the glamorisation ...view middle of the document...
This state dependency led to a decline in marriage and the growth of lone parent families, because women and children can live off benefits. Lone mothers are ineffective socialisation agents, especially for boys. Absent fathers mean that boys lack paternal discipline and appropriate male role models. As a result, young males turn to other, often delinquent, role models on the street and gain status through crime. Despite saying this, right realism ignores wider structural causes such as poverty. Poverty is a feature that the media tend to emphasise.
Left realists see a more direct relationship between crime and the mass media. They argue that the mass media help to increase the sense of relative deprivation which is the feeling of being deprived relative to others- among poor and marginalised social groups. As Lea and Young put it: “The mass media have disseminated a standardized image of lifestyle.” In today’s society, where even the poorest groups have media access, the media displays everybody with images of a money-orientated life, full of consumer goods as the norm to which they should conform. This then leads to a pressure to conform, as Merton argues, causing deviant behaviour when the chance to achieve by legitimate means is obstructed. In this instance, the media are instrumental in setting the norm and therefore in encouraging crime. Although for many, relative deprivation cannot fully explain crime because not all those who experience it commit crime. The theory over predicts the amount of criminality.
James Mersserschmidt, looks at another factor that causes crime. He argues that masculinity is a social construct or “accomplishment” and men have to constantly work at constructing and presenting it to others. In doing so, some men have more resources than others to draw upon. Messerchmidt sees crime and deviance as resources that different men may use for accomplishing masculinity. However, the media could be seen to have created this need for accomplishing masculinity as the media displays and places emphasis on the perfect masculine figure.
One way in which the media may cause crime and deviance is through labelling and an important element in this process is the creation of moral panic. A moral panic is a hyperbolic over-reaction by society to an apparent problem –usually driven or stimulated by the media where the response amplifies the problem out of all proportion to its real seriousness. In a moral panic, the media identify a group as a folk devil, presenting them in a negative, stereotypical manner. People then begin to condemn the group for their...