Mass Media, Social Control and Crime Cover Image

Mass Media, Social Control and Crime

Author(s): Miomira Kostić
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, Criminal Law, Criminology
Published by: Правни факултет Универзитета у Нишу
Keywords: mass media; juvenile delinquency; role model; social control

Summary/Abstract: The contemporary sociological and criminological literature comprises multiple examples of different (both positive and negative) impacts of mass media on young people’s conduct. While the adults may regard movies, books and newspaper stories on criminal conduct, homicide, gang activities and mobsters’ aggressive behavior as a form of detached escapism, the topics presented in these mass media may serve as an incentive for young people to identify with those juvenile delinquents and perceive them as role models. Hence, mass culture and particularly films have a considerable influence on juvenile offenders. The prevailing models of behavior are no longer to be found in the family or school but rather in the popular movies and magazines. The cultural contents presented by means of mass media are the secondary factors, and they do not have an equal effect on juvenile delinquency. This impact is reflected on a relatively small percentage of young people who already live in dysfunctional families and whose delinquent behavior is a result of being part of a particular social group or family unit. In that context, mass culture offers models and reflects a specific style of behavior. The literature also contains examples of numerous surveys conducted among children and aimed at establishing whether and to what extent there is a correlation between children’s deviant behavior and the movies they watch. The obtained results could not necessarily confirm the causal link between watching movies and juvenile delinquency but the researchers noted that the actual causes of delinquency lied in the emotional life of an individual. Some films do not, per se, encourage the viewer to engage in committing a crime but they frequently provide a detailed description of criminal technique used by the main character. Thus, after viewing some gangster or crime movies, children start role-playing gangsters and thieves. The feeling of excitement invigorated by watching thrillers is a way of satisfying a stronger urge for adventure, which is also a common feature in juvenile delinquents. Therefore, the impact of mass media on criminal conduct and commission of crime as well as the successful or unsuccessful social control over these social phenomena may be observed by exploring three interrelated facts: the con-tents and the consequences of how mass media present crime as well as the causes of the consumers’ criminal behavior.

  • Issue Year: LXI/2012
  • Issue No: 61
  • Page Range: 258-269
  • Page Count: 13
  • Language: Serbian