It is not a secret that what people know about violence is strongly influenced by what we see on TV, internet or read in newspapers, in other words violence in the media causes violence in society for most of the people. This essay is going to explain how sociologists would challenge this ‘common-sense’ assumption. In this essay will be used appropriate theories and explanations of violence and media from sociologists’ point of view to show how sociologists’ would challenge ‘common-sense’ assumption that violence in the media causes violence in society.
The main information sources which will be used in this essay to base leading theories will be Sociology books and particular Science journals and Newspaper’s articles. First of all definitions of violence, media, causality and ‘common-sense’ will be provided. The definition of causality might be stated as: the universe operates under natural laws such that any event is necessarily followed by some other particular event. The earlier event is the cause, origin, and source of the later event (F. Scott Fitzgerald).
For example, I have noticed that whenever I stick my finger in a flame, my finger gets hot. Therefore, there is a natural law that sticking my finger in a flame causes my finger to get hot. In this essay the cause will be violence in the media and the effect (later event) will be violence in society. What is media? Media is any medium used to transmit mass communication. Until recently mass media was clearly defined and was comprised of the eight mass media industries Books ,Newspapers, Magazines, and Recordings, Radio, Movies, Television and The Internet (Lane, June 29 2007).
These new technologies formed part of the wider transformation in popular culture during this period and typified the new more intensive capitalization of the leisure industries and their associated concern to address mass audiences. As defined by C. Wright Mills in The Power Elite (1956), the mass media have two important sociological characteristics: first, very few people can communicate to a great number; and, second, the audience has no effective way of answering back. Mass communication is by definition a one-way process (Scott J. and Marshall G. ).
As we can see mass media play an ever-increasing part in our life, people are depended on the media for information and entertainment. There are some restrictions from government to control mass media but from my point of view these restrictions should be stricter because media may influence society negatively with not appropriate information on it. As a result it may cause violence and that is the reason why I am going to examine this phenomenon. Researchers define media violence as visual portrayals of acts of physical aggression by one human or human-like character against another (Greene, Michael, 2002).
This definition has evolved as theories about the effects of media violence have evolved, and represents an attempt to describe the kind of violent media presentation that is most likely to teach the viewer to be more violent. Movies depicting violence of this type were frequent 75 years ago and are even more frequent today (e. g. , M, The Maltese Falcon, Shane, Dirty Harry, Pulp Fiction, Natural Born Killers, Kill Bill). Violent TV programs became common shortly after TV became common about 55 years ago, and remain common today (e. g. , Gunsmoke, Miami Vice, CSI, and 24).
More recently, video games, Internet displays, and cell phone displays have become part of most children’s growing-up, and violent displays on them have become common (e. g. , Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Warrior)( L. Rowell Huesmann). People used to think that violence in the media causes violence in society. However, there are many explanations of aggressive behaviour which do not emphasize the role of the media. This point of view between people is very popular because of ‘common sense’ that is why ‘common sense’ definition will be provided. Common sense’ in simple words means natural understanding of particular things. Most sociology textbooks, and other works, describe ‘common sense’ in very negative terms (they equate ‘common sense’ with proverbs, for example, ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’). They see it as biased, subjective, incomplete, and crude and so on. For example, two textbook authors, Shepard (1981) and Stewart (1981), cite a number of what they think are statements believed by most people as obvious ‘common sense’ but which sociology has shown to be mistaken.
Here is an example of Shepard (1981) research: ‘People with little formal education are more likely to obey orders than college-educated people’. This research supposedly shows the statement is wrong but Shepard thinks most people, using ‘common sense’ would think the statement true (Allyn and Bacon, 49-53pg). As we can realise there are two ways: ‘common sense’ and sociological way that we can explain statement that ‘violence in the media causes violence in society’. Therefore both of them will be analysed.
What does it mean violence in the media causes violence in society in ‘common sense’ way? From sociologists point of view it has negative meaning because ‘common sense’ might be wrong sometimes and it’s not exception violence in the media. As an example we can take James Bulger murder in Liverpool which gave a huge fillip to the prosecution case against TV, film and video. At the trial, the judge speculated on what might have prompted the killing. He wondered if there wasn’t a connection with violent videos.
He didn’t mention any particular films, but the press had been primed, and one film, Child’s Play III, became their target. However, it soon became clear that, despite police efforts, there was not a scrap of evidence that the boys had watched this film (Brka petley,handas). ‘Common sense’ in society has usually negative meaning about violence in the media, over 70per of published studies support negative meaning about violence in the media. People have choices and responsibilities we cannot allow ourselves to blame.
Therefore people can choose whether they want to believe that violence in the media causes violence in society or not. In my opinion, for people to play a violent shooting computer game or watch a violent film and after that to commit a crime based on the watched footage, the chance is very minimal and if it does happen, the person must already be mentally unstable, as for example we can use a research which was accomplished by BBC news. In that report were surveyed 515 people suffering from a range of mental illnesses.
Half said that media coverage had a negative effect on their own mental health (Media ‘unfairly stigmatises mental illness’). Only those who cannot differentiate fantasy and reality would attempt to harm someone just because some wrestler on television did an impressive move. While we cannot deny that violence is on the rise, the media cannot be blamed more than the living environment and the people one comes into contact with every day. Violence had always existed even before media, so it would be incorrect to lay all of the blame on the media.
In conclusion, it can be said that violent films and violent media content can influence violence in society, as pointed out in many studies, but cannot directly cause it. The extent to which violence in society is caused by violent media content will depend mainly on the way which the audience interprets it, and the way in which the audience acts on this interpretation and message. However, it can be said that other factors, including socialization as well as personal experiences or illness probably play a greater role in causing violence in society than violent films and violent media messages.