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Stanley Cohen is an example of a sociologist who has conducted research in order to investigate the effects which the media may have on young people.

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Introduction

Evidence: Many people consider the media to be a very manipulative organisation that has the power to influence our perceptions of social reality. Stanley Cohen is an example of a sociologist who has conducted research in order to investigate the effects which the media may have on young people. In 1972, Cohen released the results of his research in the book titled Folk Devils and Moral Panics. His study took place during the 1960's, focusing on the emergence of two rival gangs known as the Mods and the Rockers. During the 60's these groups attracted huge amounts of media attention for their violent confrontations, mainly occurring on British seaside resorts during bank holidays. Cohen believed that the media exaggerated various aspects of these confrontations. The media fabricated many of the factors involved such as the seriousness of the events, the numbers of people involved in them and the amounts and types of violence used. According to Cohen the emotive language used in such reports illustrated the fact that the information contained within them may not be completely truthful. It was also apparent that the media, by using the concept known as 'pre-publicity', was able to anticipate the confrontations before they happened. Cohen thought this to be caused by the awareness which the media had created about the Mods and Rockers. ...read more.

Middle

Eron continued to interview the school classmates of the children involved to assess how aggressive they were in both the classroom and playground. His results showed that there was a correlation of 0.21 between the preference for violent programmes and acts of aggression displayed at school. This result may be questioned for a number of reasons. Firstly, the identification of a correlation does not ultimately mean that television violence causes actual violence, particularly when the correlation Eron found applied only to the male participants. In addition Eron did not take into account the fact that these children may have experienced violence somewhere else, perhaps even before they first began watching television. Another problem that this study encounters is the definition of violence. In order to count the number to violent programmes watched, someone initially had to decide what was and wasn't violent. Eron followed this study in 1977 when he interviewed 427 of the 875 children used in the original research. Adopting similar techniques, he asked participants to identify their favourite programmes. As before a correlation arose, this time of 0.31. To Eron, this indicated that early exposure to violent television programmes had the ability to increase an individual's tendency to be aggressive. This experiment, similarly to the previous one was also open to argument. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Belson's study has been heavily criticized for some major inconsistencies, it is still reasonably useful in attempting to identify the types of violence which do and the types of violence which do not lead young people to behave violently themselves. There are studies which appear to disprove the notion that young people are affected by T.V. violence. Experiments such as Feshbach and Singer's 1971 investigation into the effects of violent programmes on young boys are used in an attempt to improve on the artificiality of the laboratory experiments. Feshbach and Singer used a group of boys aged 8 to 18 and gave them each a 'diet' of television to watch over a period of 6 weeks. They concluded that those who had watched violent or aggressive programmes actually showed a reduction in their aggressiveness. Unlike other studies which illustrated an increase in violence, this study would seem to suggest that people who are able to discharge their violent tendencies through watching television. Overall it is extremely unclear as to whether violence on the TV causes young people to act violently themselves. The ways of measuring are highly flawed and no one method has escaped criticism. Correlation surveys unlike laboratory and field experiments are able to use large numbers of participants making their results more reliable. However no method is perfect making conclusions difficult to reach. ...read more.

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