Monday, February 14, 2011

Normalizing Violence

In response to Jessy's question.

In my estimation, I would say that media does a play a part in “normalizing” violence. But not through fictional TV shows, but through non-fiction showing the violence that happens around us. In a recent blog posted on UNL, some of our very owned sociologists surveyed hundreds of adults about how often they watched various kinds of crime TV – made-up dramas, documentary-style “real crime” programs, and local and national news. They found that how each type of program depicts crime was a factor in viewers’ opinions on everything from their fear of crime to their confidence in the justice system to their support of the death penalty.

You can read the whole article here.

Some of the key finding posted in the blog are:

  • The more frequently people watched non-fiction crime documentaries like “The First 48” or “Dateline,” the more fearful they were of becoming a crime victim. They also were less supportive of and less confident in the criminal justice system and said they believed the national crime rate was climbing.
  • Frequent viewers of fictional crime dramas were not affected by the programming to believe they would become crime victims, and their support of and confidence in the criminal justice system also was unaffected by their viewing habits. Interestingly, though, the more frequently they watched crime dramas, the more certain they were in their support of the death penalty.
  • The more often people watched crime coverage on the local news, the more they believed that the local crime rate was increasing.

Based on these findings, yes TV is leading us to “normalize” violence, but not from CSI, but the News at 10.

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