Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

First Advisor

Soulliere, Danielle

Keywords

Crime Media, Cultural Criminology, Media Criminology, Popular Criminology, Social Construction

Rights

CC BY-NC ND 4.0

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis was to shed light on the existing gap is scholarly literature, thus exploring the possibility of crime media creating inaccurate and potentially detrimental social constructions of crime, victims, offenders and enforcers. The 2015-2016 seasons of popular CBS dramas, CSI and CM, were analysed using a thematic content analysis. This analysis was compared to Canadian and US statistics to determine if television crime media inaccurately portrays crime and if so, to what extent. To provide further insight on the possibility of crime media influencing public perceptions of crime, in person interviews were conducted with attention given to educational background of participants as a possible influence. Findings revealed that CSI and CM do present inaccurate portrayals of crime and when compared to interview responses, likely social constructions and cultural understandings of crime emerged. Inaccurate representations in crime media consisted of: an overrepresentation of female victims, highly intelligent offenders, superhero enforcers, and overrepresentation of violent crime. Interview responses found that: DNA evidence was highly favoured as a form of conviction, participants do not fear crime but assumed violent crime when discussing victimization, and offenders are only successful if intelligent. The answers given between those academically educated in criminology and those who were not were quite similar, thus favouring a media criminology theoretical framework. This study is necessary because if crime media influences public perceptions of crime the impact on the criminal justice system is likely to be immense.

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