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NCJ Number: 200442 Find in a Library
Title: Racial Composition of Television Offenders and Viewers' Fear of Crime
Journal: Critical Criminology  Volume:11  Issue:1  Dated:2002  Pages:41-60
Author(s): Sarah Eschholz
Date Published: 2002
Page Count: 20
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: Based on a content analysis of 26 crime-related television programs and a telephone survey of 1,492 adults, this study examined the impact of the racial composition of television offenders on viewers' fear of crime.
Abstract: The study tested the following hypothesis: Higher concentrations of African-American offenders on television will produce more fear of crime than viewing predominantly White offenders. Based on previous reception research, findings were expected to be more pronounced for White viewers than for African-American viewers. The survey of 1,492 adults conducted in the capital of a Southern State during 8 weeks in the fall of 1995 focused on respondents' television viewing habits, fear of crime, levels of perceived risk, and several individual demographic variables. The focus of the content analysis of the television programs was an assessment of the number and individual characteristics of offenders in each of the crime stories. The study found that individuals in the general sample who watched more television had higher levels of fear of crime. When the analysis was broken into subgroups, this relationship between fear of crime and the amount of television viewing was found only among minorities, i.e., African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and others. This lends support to the existence of "interpretive communities" that are composed of similar individuals who interpret media presentations similarly. For White television viewers, the racial composition, notably African-American, of television offenders was significantly related to fear of crime. These findings suggest that viewers of television crime programs will support politicians and policies that target the kinds of crimes featured in television programs. For Whites, the tendency will be to support those crime-control policies that focus on behaviors associated with African-Americans, notably abuse of and trafficking in crack cocaine and juvenile violence. 4 tables and 89 references
Main Term(s): Critical criminology
Index Term(s): Fear of crime; Media coverage; Racial discrimination; Television programming
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