Violence in the media reflects violence in society, not the other way around.

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Media Violence is not a clear cause of violence in society. have a look why!

Submitted: December 07, 2016

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Submitted: December 07, 2016

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Violence in the media reflects violence in society, not the other way around. Discuss.

No other research area on communication has caused controversies and discussions regarding the issue on violence in the media and its possible effects on individuals and especially on children. No other sector has been intensively studied and the conclusions reached have never been so ambiguous and divergent in no other sector. On the other hand, the media, sociologists argue, are not the prima facie cause of the things they are accused of. Violence is not invented in the media, rather its presence as media content reflects its presence in real world. Violence is part of the human being and therefore part of society. To support this idea, one needs only think that, even in the Roman Empire, violence was reproduced in the Colosseum’s matches with gladiators. (McLuhan, 1964). Hence, the sociological research has always analysed the issue of media violence within society as a combination of factors instead of a research in a single and effective cause such as the representation of violence itself in the media. Several professors, groups, organisations, health institutes claim that the abundant and unrestricted representation of violence in the media are provoking violent behaviour among nowadays individuals. The constant images and videos of relentless violence tend to make them callous to the violence itself, thereby increasing their tendency to assume an aggressive behaviour. On the other hand, notwithstanding this highly prevalent thought that media cause violence in society, there is still no strong scientifical research that reveals media violence being the prima facie cause of violent behaviour. This leads us to state that violence in the media does not cause violence in society for different and deep-seated reasons. (Freedman, 2002). Firstly, catalyst theorists argue that violence is a result of a combination between social influences such as family environment and peer groups. They argue that media violence has a meaningless and superficial causality for violence within society. Specific violent actions are "catalysed" by environment circumstances such as social tensions and poverty, where there are high probabilities to have a violent inclination. (Ferguson & Kilburn, 2009) Secondly, recent research with prisoners has confirmed the catalyst model. Precisely, inmates usually showed specific details or behaviours in their offenses they had emulated in media. Otherwise, the motive to commit crimes itself was unconnected to media violence they watched. (Surette, 2012). In addition, it is stated that there is an overlooking for variables such as genetics and family violence as described above but they especially overlook personality that may reveal both why several individuals become aggressive and why those same people opt to watch media where violence is dominant. Further, recent research has demonstrated that there is no predictive connection between media violence and youth violence when the individual’s family environment and his psyche are stable and supervised. (Ferguson, 2008). According to Freedman (2002), there is no substantial correlation between media violence and aggression increase since studies for this conclusion only analysed crimes committed after exposure to media violence and they overlooked data of other offences and he argues that society has to be considered and examined as a whole rather than case by case. Therefore, he considers research on this field as unrepresentative. Furthermore, Huesmann & Eron (1986) failed to find a correlation between media violence and aggression among countries (for example USA, Japan, Canada and Russia) where media violence rates were similar but they had entirely different and lower violent crimes rates. Moreover, According to Durkheim, crime is the result of a lack of moral regulations and structural tensions within society. He argued that deviancy was inevitable and necessary for society and that it performed four main functions. Deviancy is needed to affirm cultural values and norms, sustaining and generating morality. By responding to deviant behaviour, society draws moral boundaries between right and wrong. Knowing the evil and the good, man can distinguish them. Responding to deviancy also promotes social unity as members of society react collectively to deviant behaviour. Deviancy encourages social change pushing moral boundaries and providing alternative solution. (Giddens, 2013). Therefore, people react to violence and violence representation in several different ways. Media violence is just a reflection of the level of violence that occurs in the real world and a reflection of society itself. To conclude, the issue of crime lies in the society itself and not in its reflection. Furthermore, UK National Statistics (2015) argued that violence figures reveal a decrease of 7% and violent crime also in the USA dropped down for the fifth successive year (Frieden, 2012). Thence, crime has diminished in recent ages when violence in the media is still relevant. This confirms the idea that violence in the media does not cause further violence in the reality and in spite of this both real violence and media violence are repudiated. Social scientists tend to support the view that media reflect society and they also analysed every consequence that media violence can cause; such as fear, anxiety, cynicism and therefore not only aggression can be considered the main and the only outcome of violence. The terrorist attacks in Europe can be a clear example of media violence analysis. In the period of the attacks in Belgium and France, Media have persistently continued to show the Islamic State propaganda, its cruelty, its aims, its soldiers and several and repetitive videos or pictures of their attacks. Consequently, strikes against violence took place all around Europe as symbol of peace and freedom and the majority of people condemned such acts. On the other hand, according to a survey of Chapman University, the fear of terrorist attacks are the second major fear in the USA even if there are more than thousands of probabilities to die in a car accident, or by a conational gun shooter. (CDC, 2014). Even according to an Express survey, the 89% of the British population were afraid of terrorist attacks after European facts. On the other hand, according to the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (2015) almost four thousand foreign fighters have left Europe to be recruited by ISIS after the happenings of Paris and Brussels. Therefore, people have different reactions to media violence; there is a huge number of people who repudiate it, other people are afraid of it and lastly some people are influenced by it but this percentage is very limited in comparison to the whole society. Hence, it is evident the fact that the responsible agents of aggressive behaviour are a lot and among them, the social and personal factors feature prominently rather than the effect that can exercise the exposure to media. Nevertheless, it is necessary to distinguish causality from correlation. There are elements both in causality and correlation that have a covariance. But to ensure that these elements can be causally linked, covariance is not sufficient. Therefore it is not enough to establish: “there is violence in the media, there is violence in society, and hence, violence within society depends on media violence; because the correlation could be illusionary. (De Cataldo and Gulotta, 1998). To conclude, the violence which is present in the media, the violence which is present within society and the violence which is present in the human behaviour stem from the fact that it is society itself that is violent. Therefore, the representation of this violence is nothing more than the representation of what already exists in the reality. Even in the children's world, violence is already in their mind: they play to kill, the let their toys die and they are shown fairy tales with the theme of death, danger and violence (example: Little Red Riding Hood). Nevertheless, children can distinguish what is right and what is wrong and this distinction overcomes the imitation theory. They are able to condemn and reject such violent behaviours represented by media. On the other hand, if things were not so, we would have 90% of violent children and a surge of youth criminality. (ibidem) To conclude, It is clear that the media affect community in several ways but it is not verified that violence in the media causes violence in the real world. Many people who have a passion for violent media are not violent themselves or on the other hand they react to violence in media in different ways. Violence already exists in the individual personality, whether it is because of troubled childhood or unfavourable familiar conditions where violence has been considered tolerable or for mental health issues. Moreover, even the usage of psychiatric or illegal drugs has dangerous consequences since they can lead to committing suicide or having homicide tendencies. To sum up, the exposure to violent stuff combined with any of the previous factors, above mentioned, induces real violence. (Samenow, 1985). However, it is possible that violent representations can have an impact on an already violent and instable person into perpetrating offenses, although as social scientists would suggest, media do not create new behaviours which are not previously learned in an individual itself and therefore in some situations, violence in the media can affect an individual to act out premeditated violence.

REFERENCES Addressing the foreign terrorist fighters’ phenomenon from a European Union perspective (2014) Terrorism and Counter-Terrorism Studies, pp, 23-47. Center for Disease control and Prevention (2014) “Underlying Cause of Death.” Ferguson, C.J. (2009) Media Violence Effects: Confirmed Truth or Just Another X-File? Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice,9(2),103-126 Freedman, J.L. (2002) Media violence and its effect on aggression: Assessing the scientific evidence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Freedman, J.L. (2003) “Book review: Media violence and its effects on aggression: Assessing the scientific evidence,” Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 44(2), pp. 179–180. Frieden, T. (2012) “U.S. violent crime down for fifth straight year,” CNN, 12 October. Giddens, A. and Sutton, P.W. (2009) Sociology. 6th edn. Malden, MA: Polity Press, pp. 293-294. Huesmann, L.R. (1986) “Psychological processes promoting the relation between exposure to media violence and aggressive behavior by the viewer,” Journal of Social Issues, 42(3), pp. 125–139. McLuhan, M. (1966) Mcluhan Marshall: Understanding media. New York, NY, United States: Penguin Books, pp. 8-11. Office for National Statistics (2015) “Crime in England and Wales: Year ending March 2015.” Oliphant, V. (2016) “UK terror attack expectation TRIPLES in a decade as 84 per cent of Britons fear strike,” Daily Express, 8 August. Patnoe, J. and Samenow, S.E. (1985) “Inside the criminal mind,” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973-), 76(2), p. 550. Surette, R. (2012) “Cause or catalyst: The interaction of real world and media crime models,” American Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(3), pp. 392–409. Walker, M.K. (2012) “Des Freedman and Daya Kishan Thussu (Eds.). Media and terrorism: Global perspectives,” Terrorism and Political Violence, 24(5), pp. 858–860.


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