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Evaluate the importance of the mass media in the amplification of deviance

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Introduction

Evaluate the importance of the mass media in the amplification of deviance. Sociological understanding behind the mass media as well as deviance has to be taken into account with regards to the amplification process. The idea of deviancy amplification is firmly within the Interactionist tradition and comes out of a consideration of the processes of labelling and self-fulfilling prophecy, which are important in the sociological study of deviance and education. Cohen developed the idea of the amplification of deviance spiral from his interest in the contradiction that the media often raged against deviant or criminal behaviour, but in doing so, often made the problem worse. He was interested in the process whereby the media contributed to an increase in the very behaviour they were criticising. Cohen's work was concerned with the mods and rockers and some incidents on the sea front one bank holiday. Although the original incidents were relatively minor- some scuffling and shoving and a lot of drunkenness- the papers chose to headline the violence as if it much more worse; they described the incident as a 'blood bath'. ...read more.

Middle

The media create folk devils all the time, e.g. mods and rockers where in the 1960's now there is a moral panic being created on asylum seekers and the 'hoodies'. The effects of being labelled as a folk devil by the media are two-fold. It firstly changes the way that the police and the courts deal with the social groups involved. For example there was a greater police presence on the sea-front at the next bank holiday, with the result that more mods and rockers were caught doing violent things therefore the problem got worse. However this can also mean that there was the same amount of violence but due to the greater amount of policing more visible crimes were caught. The second effect is that it changes the way the mods and rockers see themselves, so that they begin to take on a master status of the stereotypical folk devil as defined by the media and imposed on them by the police, therefore it can be argued that through these agencies of socialisation individuals are criminalised depending upon their habitus' at a particular time; this is because crime and deviance is relative to time and place e.g. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also a problem with the media is that it assumes that the audience all interpret the reporting's the same however there are two different reactions to the media account. The first is from the moral entrepreneur and the public and the other is from the folk devils themselves, as they internalise concepts and views allocated to them. So to conclude it may be that the media are an important avenue for the creation of folk devils and moral panics but it is not a straight forward aspect. The media are not an undifferentiated agency and people do not respond to them in a deterministic fashion. People can use the media reports for their own purposes- they can even manipulate the media to create an image that they desire. It is also not clear that our understanding of society can be separated from the media who are our prime source of information. Yet certain social groups do come to be seen as undesirable or a problem in society, and as we get our information about them from the media rather than fist hand, then it is likely that the media do play a significant role in the process of deviancy amplification. ...read more.

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