Assess the view that the mass media creates violence.
There is much debate on whether the mass media creates violence among its audience. There are some views that think that violence in the media does indeed create violence amongst the audience, whilst other views think otherwise.
One view, or sociological model, that thinks violence in the media creates violence amongst its audience, is the stimulation effect model. This model assumes that viewing violence is likely to create violence in the viewer. The sociologist Berkowitz (1962) maintained that watching violence stimulates emotional and physiological responses so that the likelihood of aggressive behaviour is increased. However, the stimulus response model is far from simple as Berkowitz argues that it depends on the individual having feelings of aggression or frustration before viewing begins. On the other hand, a model, which argues against the view that the mass media creates violence, is the catharsis model. This model is a psychological approach, grounded in Freudian psychoanalytic theory. It believes that the stresses of daily life build up such a high degree of frustration in the individual that it may lead to aggression. The sociologist Feshbach (1961) argues that viewing violence may in fact act as a deterrent to real life violence because watching violence on our screens relieves our feelings of frustration. Therefore the viewing of screened violence may actual defuse potentially aggressive behaviour in individuals. Also, Feshbach and Singer (1971) maintain that this cathartic effect may be more pronounced in working class viewers because their socialisation has resulted in their being less self-disciplined than the middle classes.