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Media Representations and Popular Fears of Crime

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Is there a relationship between media representations and popular fears of crime? Illustrate your answer with contemporary examples.

In society today, the media affects most people’s lives in one way or another. The extent of this effect however, varies depending on the individuals themselves. Popular fears of crime, is a term which is used to describe what kind of crimes scare people in the sense of being a victim of that crime and what it is about particular crimes which make citizens feel un-safe. Some of the crimes that people are most fearful of are not the most popular of crimes though, which questions why they are feared the most and does the media have a part to play in this?
There are many factors which come into account when thinking about popular fears of crime. Each person will have a different view as to what they fear, depending on their own thoughts or feelings and also their social groups.
“While fear of crime can be differentiated into public feelings, thoughts and behaviors about the personal risk of criminal victimization, distinctions can also be made between the tendency to see situations as fearful, the actual experience while in those situations, and broader expressions about the cultural and social significance of crime and symbols of crime in people's neighborhoods and in their daily, symbolic lives”
Gabriel, U. & Greve, W. (2003). The psychology of fear of crime: Conceptual and methodological perspectives. British Journal of Criminology, 43, 600-614.
Fears also tend to be similar amongst similar groups of gender/age or ethnicity. Among young women, there is a popular fear of sexual assault or rape occurring, and although this crime can happen to men it doesn’t tend to be a fear which they have. Different races may have a fear of racial abuse from a different ethnic group, mothers everywhere could fear for child abuse to happen to their own children, and elderly people tend to fear groups of young people, despite if they are committing an actual crime or not. A survey carried out in Wokingham, England showed that the most popular fear of crime was young people hanging around the streets as well as dangerous driving. Although this may be the case, this shows that statistically the likelihood of the survey being answered by the older generation to be very high, however it does outline that age can be a strong factor in differentiation of fear. A fear which happens rarely, but seems to be a popular one, is terrorism. Although we hear about this more often nowadays, it is not a crime which happens as regularly as other crimes occurring in the UK and world today. It’s a more recent “fear” which came to light mainly after the 9/11 incident in the USA. This is a crime, which is of fear to everyone regardless of any factors, because it can happen to anyone and does happen in society today.

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