Fear attitudes toward police effectiveness, although a

Fear of crime exists outside the
realms of societal pretences and instead is a condition embedded within the
human psyche. Factors such as the levels of crime and security within any
society are obvious predictors for levels of fear of crime, further predictors
are factors such as past experiences, demographic factors, and the perception
of insecurity; which as of recently has emerged as a social problem.  Jean Baudrillard’s theory of hyperreality is
one which will be closely considered in the answering of the question posed in
the title. Fear of crime and hyperreality are associated in that Surette (1998)
put forward that fiction is closer to news than to reality, this statement
being founded upon a study performed by Mandel (1984) which determined that
between 1945 and 1984 over 10 billion crime thrillers were produced. The theory most often used to explain the effects of exposure to
certain media contents is called cultivation theory and was introduced in the
1970s by George Gerbner. Gerbner’s research concluded that heavy exposure to
media content could over an extended time period influence attitudes and
behaviour towards being “more consistent with the world of television programs
than with the everyday world” (Chandler 1995). Results taken from Dowler (2003) indicate that
“viewing crime shows is significantly related to fear of crime and perceived
police effectiveness.” Dowler goes onto mention that regular crime drama
viewers are more likely to “hold negative attitudes toward police
effectiveness, although “regular viewers of crime shows are more likely to fear
or worry about crime. Similarly, regular crime drama viewers are more likely to
hold negative attitudes toward police effectiveness, although a bivariate
analysis indicated that newspapers as primary source of crime news and hours of
television viewing are not significantly related to fear of crime, punitive
attitudes or perceived police effectiveness.”

The
relationship shared between the mass media and a fear of crime is dependent on
the audience with whom it shares (Heath and Gilbert, 1996). Dowler (2003)
reported that local crime news “increased fear among those who lived in the
reported area, whereas non-local crime news had the opposite effect.” Furthermore,
local crime news has a greater effect for residents of higher crime
neighbourhoods, those who both watch a lot of television and live in high crime
neighbourhoods were also found to be more fearful of crime than counterparts
who did not (Dowler, 2003).

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