Media is intended to reach and address a large target group or audience.
Often the media will create a moral panic surrounding crimes and criminals or deviants. Moral panics can lead to a range of responses by the public, by agents of social control and by the criminals or deviants themselves.
Over-representation of certain types of crimes may lead to heightened fear of these crimes by the public. In some cases, moral panics may also result in a change in the law. We will write a custom essay sample on Role of the mass media in creating moral panics about crime and deviance or any similar topic specifically for you Do Not Waste HIRE WRITER Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the role of the mass media in creating moral panics about crime and deviance 21 marks.
Often it is the case that the media will play an important role in what Durkheim would say is maintaining the boundaries of society, reaffirming what is socially acceptable, and what is not.
Durkheim would also say that all change starts with deviance, and the media highlighting this deviance on the world stage helps to excite and increase the rate of social change, which as suggested in the item, can lead to changes in law.
Examples of this have been seen with public displays of homosexuality in countries where homosexual marriage is illegal, or disallowed. So, while Functionalists would say the news plays an important function in society as a tool to catalyst social change, others would argue that it actually victimises a lot of people.
This kind of challenge is met harshly and the new group, or person, is outcasted. This was seen in the study of the Drug Takers by Jock Young.
The Hippies he undertook a participant observation with were using drugs as a peripheral activity, in which nobody was being hurt and nobody was using them too often. The media picked up this criminal and deviant activity, and called for a tough crackdown.
Over time, the once peripheral activity has morphed into being a centralised underground activity which the group subscribe to as part of their self fulfilling prophecy, or as Lemert would say, they subscribe to secondary deviance.
In this example, the peripheral drug taking was a primary act of deviance, and the acceptance of the label and underground centralisation of drug taking has become the secondary, societal reaction to the act of deviance. In this way, the media has had a negative impact on crime and deviance by increasing the frequency of the acts of deviance, and raising the official statistics of drug related arrests due to police targeting, among other agencies of social control.
The media have contributed in an even more detrimental way in the past. Particularly in the case of the Mods and Rockers at Clacton.
In this case, acts of violence between two groups were reported on by the media, and the police were called upon to crack down on the deviance and misbehaviour. The following event, as with the prediction, was far worse, far bigger, and better covered.
Thus, the effect was seen that the problem was bigger than first thought and that the behaviour of the mods and the rockers was categorised and reported on in such a way that others, who were fence-sitters, or indifferent to the typification were asked, or sometimes forced, to subscribe to one of the two groups.
Both groups were then stigmatised by society and outcast, and frustration repeatedly came out as violence thereafter. Once again, the media has caused a moral panic, and in this case deviance amplification spiral.
The main criticisms of these arguments however are as follows, Durkheim is criticised for being naive to crime of the wider power structure by Marxists, in that he ignores who decides what is criminal and not.
It is my opinion, that the media are a cause of moral panics as the evidence seems overwhelming. They seems to thrive off demonizing and victimising deviants, which perhaps some realists, particularly right realists would agree with.
However, I believe labelling has a much larger effect on societal crime and deviance than first estimated, and as such my conclusion is that the media plays an important role in creating moral panics about crime and deviance.The media play an important role in increasing public awareness and formation of their views and attitudes toward certain issues.
There is no denial that media is playing a very significant role in making the world smaller. Graduates and students are welcome to apply for placements through an internship or traineeship, with the aim to enrich their knowledge with the practical experience of working in hands-on field research and conservation projects (see below the possible project areas).
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