Watching the detectives: Crime programming, fear of crime, and attitudes about the criminal justice system

Lisa A. Kort-Butler, Kelley J.Sittner Hartshorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research demonstrates a complex relationship between television viewing and fear of crime. Social critics assert that media depictions perpetuate the dominant cultural ideology about crime and criminal justice. This article examines whether program type differentially affects fear of crime and perceptions of the crime rate. Next, it tests whether such programming differentially affects viewers' attitudes about the criminal justice system, and if these relationships are mediated by fear. Results indicated that fear mediated the relationship between viewing nonfictional shows and lack of support for the justice system. Viewing crime dramas predicted support for the death penalty, but this relationship was not mediated by fear. News viewership was unrelated to either fear or attitudes. The results support the idea that program type matters when it comes to understanding people's fear of crime and their attitudes about criminal justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-55
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Quarterly
Volume52
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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