The media as a cause of crime

There are several ways in which the media might cause crime deviance, including:

  • Imitation- by providing deviant role models, resulting in copycat behaviour.
  • Arousal, e.g. through violent imagery
  • Desensitisation through repeated viewing of violence
  • Transmitting knowledge of criminal techniques
  • Stimulating desires for unaffordable goods, through advertising
  • Glamorising crime.

However, studies have tended to find that exposure to media violence has a most a small negative effect on audiences. Research on the media as a cause of crime or violence often uses lab experiments. While this allows researchers to control the variables involved, the artificiality of the setting undermines validity. Cannot measure long term effects either.

Fear of crime

The media exaggerates the amount of violent crime and exaggerates the risks of certain groups becoming victims. Research evidence to some extent supports the view that the media causes fear of crime. Tumber found that TV watchers express greater fear of going out at night and of becoming a victim.

The media, relative deprivation and crime

Left realists Young and Lea argue that the media increase relative deprivation among marginalised groups. In today’s society, where even the poorest have media access, the media presents everyone with images of materialistic ‘good life’ as the goal to which they should strive. This stimulates the sense of relative deprivation and social exclusion felt by marginalised groups who cannot afford material goods and so turn to crime

Cultural criminologists Hayward and Young argue that late modern society is a media saturated society that emphasises consumption and excitement. The media turn crime itself into a commodity of style to be consumed, and corporations use images of crime to sell products, especially to the young.