Crime in America Notes

Topics: Crime, Criminology, Sociology Pages: 11 (4378 words) Published: October 15, 2014

Jan 23
Lecture 1
The social construction of myths/why Americans fear the wrong things

By learning the techniques for identifying the mythology of crime

1. Why do we need to study social problems??
in an effort to find solutions- of we do not study then we cannot find solutions 2. Why do these exist in the first place??
Maybe because someone sees a benefit or someone has a vested interest. People should earn a living wage however most people do not want to pay a $9 for a Big Mac. sometimes it is an economical
Sometimes in society we have to compromise

3. What is a Crime Myth??
generally speaking a Crime Myth is created from a non-scientific forum. I.E. TV, FB
generally includes sensationalism and evolve over time
Many times it is because the media wants to be the first to report

The Functions of Crime Myths
1. Catalog Social Actors
even if the myth is inaccurate people adjust their behavior as if it were true I.E. when there is a natural disaster then people stock up on groceries and gas One function of crime myths is to put people in categories- victims, criminals, law abiding citizens, crime fighters The problem is that these categories are not mutually exclusive- people may belong to multiple categories The labeling has a consequence and can effect social relationships- then people look to define others who may fit the category 2. Reinforce Existing Social Arrangements

It will reinforce existing social relationships, it is a good was to maintain the status quo Racial profiling is a good example- Most people do not believe it is a good idea or just believe it is not a good idea for them, one idea is terrorist 3. Reconcile Contradictions

Individuals who go to prison will reoffend.
The crime myth is a tool for other social institutions.
4. Create a Collective Belief System
Most people fall under the law abiding citizen category, however if we use a myth to create the belief system the it can be false. If enough people can be rallied together then the belief structure can change if the myth is false.

The Media as Myth-makers
1. The Power of the Media
Very powerful, mass communication is a formalized
This has evolved greatly in the last 20-25 years
Because the news is on a 24 hour cycle news is almost real tim 2. Are the Media biased- Yes
It depends on the channel you are watching it depends on the bias
a. What is a Bias?? We are talking about the idea that there is a slanted view towards a media event, that all sides of the story are not being told
b. Factual and selection bias
- Factual bias is the worst- they lie- a factual or empirically based claim
- media can be led astray by experts
- most of the time it is accidental
- Selection Bias- being selective in how the story is told and what stories are told in the first place
- Part of it is ratings based and another part is based on the opinions of the organization like no seeing pro Obama on Fox or seeing anti Obama on MSNBC- it depends
- it can also be a way of splitting statistical hairs
- it is common and also expected
C. Is it a bad thing??
- Most agree that factual bias is a bad thing
- Selective bias- it depends on how you think
Factual bias are worse selection bias may not be as bad if the viewer understands that it exists and is willing to get the rest of the story 3. Theories of Media Bias
a. The Ruling Elitist/ Top Down Theory
Media is a tool for the top of the social hierarchy- so it becomes a tool to maintain the ruling elite; Getting individuals to believe what the ruling elite want them to believe
- Institutional dominance/hegemony- Either the media is complicit or coerced by the ruling elite
b. The Money Machine Theory- more of a ratings issue- we are a ratings driven environment, to maximize profit- it is about the bottom line- I will craft and tailor stories to increase my bottom line- economic profit.

c. The Grass Roots Theory-
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