Representations of sexual crime: the British press, public attitudes and desistance from crime

Harper, Craig (2013) Representations of sexual crime: the British press, public attitudes and desistance from crime. In: PsyPAG Annual Conference, 17-19 July 2013, Lancaster University, Lancaster.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


Media reports both inform and enhance public attitudes toward a host of social phenomena, not least criminality. From ‘name and shame’ through to ‘holiday camp prisons’, the press’ reporting of crime frequently sets the course of public debate, which then impacts upon societal responses to crime, the political discourse on crime control, and penal policy. This talk addresses some of the press motivations for reporting crime in sensationalist ways, and looks at the representativeness of crime reporting compared with the realities of criminality in the UK. Furthermore, the linguistic characteristics of press reports will be discussed, and linked to the increasingly hostile public rhetoric about crime and punishment, with a particular emphasis on ‘the paedophile’. Using linguistic data from over 400 newspaper articles, along with recent examples of media reports, it is suggested that the press are ignoring empirical findings and promoting a stereotypical caricature of (sex) offenders, which hardens attitudes toward this population and hinders attempts at reintegration and subsequent desistance from crime.

Keywords:attitudes, sex offenders, newspapers, forensic psychology, criminology, public criminology
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C810 Applied Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C880 Social Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:12651
Deposited On:10 Dec 2013 09:13

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