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Crime Waves as Ideology

Mark Fishman
Social Problems
Vol. 25, No. 5 (Jun., 1978), pp. 531-543
DOI: 10.2307/800102
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800102
Page Count: 13
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Crime Waves as Ideology
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Abstract

This study explores how crime waves are constructed in the media and how they contribute to an ideology of crime. I present a case study of a major 1976 "crime wave against the elderly" in New York City. Analyzing data from participant observation, interviews, and content analysis of crime news, I shown that crime waves are heavily reported themes in crime which journalists perceive in selecting news. Crime waves result from processes internal to a news production system involving: a) the overlap of news judgements among media organizations, b) a "crime wave dynamic," and c) journalists' reliance on police for accounts of crime. Only a restricted class of crime themes--those dealing with street crime--ever become crime waves. Once a crime wave begins to emerge in the media, officials use their newsmaking powers to control its growth.

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