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Assess sociological explanations of the relationship between crime and the mass media.

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Introduction

Assess sociological explanations of the relationship between crime and the mass media There has been a lot of debate in sociology regarding what consequences the mass media has on the rate and/or production of crime in society. (The mass media being avenues of communications that reaches out to the masses.) Functionalist concerns as regards to the study of deviance can be traced back to Emile Durkheim; that societies are held together by a value consensus. There is always the possibility of a collapse in society if values aren't constantly reaffirmed and passed on from one generation to the other; therefore maintenance of values is functional of society. Functionalists see the mass media as an agency of socialisation; that integrates its audience into the universal norms and values of society. They see the mass media as giving us what we want, and caters for our needs. Therefore has nothing to do as regarding to what we will be discussed later on, that the mass media increases crime. They see the mass media as acting as neutral servants for the public and see power being given to the consumer. Where crime does occur, it is presented in an objective manner, where no biases are portrayed. However, interactionist approaches criticise functionalists along with other structural approaches as being overly deterministic, because they given causal status to human agencies and neglect the interactional process that the mass media endures. ...read more.

Middle

Lastly, it sensitises the police, who will now be more vigilant on those who looks like a mod. Because of this, everyone is now sensitised as to where the next "riot" between the Mods and rockers will take place. Once a place is announced, every mod will go down because of the sensitisation, and now, 1000's of police will be there. Mods will now know that they are news and will exaggerate their behaviour and pose in front of the cameras. This further reaction amplifies delinquency and secondary deviance kicks in. The next time a riot happens, Mods will act like the newspapers saw that they are acting and results in the script that has been written by the media to become reality. The major interaction study that was carried out was by Jock Young, who carried out an overt participant study. He looked at the relationship between the police and the marihuana smoker in Notting hill over the period of 1967-1969, and engaged in primary deviance (i.e a few teenagers smoking pot etc.) He showed the difference between the media typification of the drug user (fantasy) and the reality that he was experiencing. There was a distinct different between the stereotype that the mass media portrayed and what reality really was. Such examples are given below: It is a typical bohemian scene that is a highly organised community involving tightly interrelated friendship nets and intense patterns of visiting. ...read more.

Conclusion

The gangster scene etc will be flooding in with the money since they start to sell it for more, and organised crime increases. This results in the social amplification spiral, and thus shows how the mass media results in the increase of crime. It can be seen that interactional approaches provide good empirical evidence on moral panics and drug use. They also acknowledge agents of social control, and criticise functionalists for having a naive view. Functionalists do not provide a balanced view; it is the end of a series of problematic steps, not an automatic procedure. However, interactionists can be criticised since people do not always accept labels given to them. It suggests that the individual being labelled is passive, which is not always the case. There is also too much focus on the social reaction. It is a good explanation of recreational crime and the "grey" areas of crime such as delinquency, however it focuses on the areas at the expense of other crimes. Labelling doesn't always lead to a deviant continuing to commit a deviant act as interactionists suggest, as they might just start to drift into the deviant act because they enjoy. Lastly, they fail to locate deviance at macro levels in the society, they only look at the micro deviance in society, and this is where neo Marxists come into the equation who look at the wider socio economic framework that the mass media and the police have to work in. Rozina Shafi March 2003 ...read more.

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