Study Questions

1. Choose one of the theories discussed in this chapter and discuss the contribution it has made to our understanding of the relationship between media and crime.

2. As the War of the Worlds radio broadcast demonstrates, concerns about media effects frequently reflect or crystallize deeper anxieties in periods of social upheaval. What examples of contemporary concerns about the effects of the media can you think of, and in what ways might they be attributed to wider anxieties about social change?

3. Conduct an analysis of a week’s news. What evidence can you find for the proposition that news is ideology and that the mass media are effectively assimilated into the goals of government policy on crime, law, and order?

4. In a challenge to Marxist-inspired critiques, some cultural theorists (e.g., Fiske, 1989) argue that all popular culture is the “people’s culture” and emerges from “below” rather than being imposed from “above.” It is thus seen to be independent of, and resistant to, the dominant hegemonic norms. What implications does this have for those who hold deviant or oppositional viewpoints? Can “popular” culture really be described as nonhierarchical when it celebrates power and violence for men and sexual availability and victimization among women and children?

5. At the heart of postmodern analyses lies the thorny question of why crime is threatening and frightening yet at the same time popular and “entertaining.” How would you attempt to answer this question?