The significantly affected by the media. Many criminologists

The fear of crime refers to the fear of being a victim of a
crime as opposed to the likelihood of actually being a victim of said crime. In
recent years many have debated the question of whether or not the fear of crime
is potentially as serious as crime itself. A number of criminologists would most
likely agree that a large number of the population are haunted by the idea that
a stranger could attack them at any given moment. There seems to be no limit
nor a boundary upon place or time of this crime: this could occur in the home
or on the street and the crime itself could be anything from robbery, assault,
rape and so on. This essay will seek to analyse the catalyst behind this sudden
crime fearing state of mind, and also the effects of one’s fear. This will assess
whether this ‘process’ of developing the fear is significantly affected by the

Many criminologists and sociologists have carried out
studies to determine whether or not there is a direct correlation between the
fear of crime and the actual risk involved in a given situation. When this has
been tested many have founded little to no link between the two. The idea that
the media are to blame for this fear of crime rather than it being based on any
form of logic or natural human response to danger originates in many pieces of
work written in the 1970s by Gerbner (1977). The argument put forward is that
the type of crime that was being portrayed across all forms of media possessed
no likeness to real crime and had been too affectively dramatised in order to
induce fear into the audience for entertainment purposes. Along with this, the ‘TV
Crime Dramas’ were doing too good of a job at convincing the public to make
their own minds up about certain crime statistics. For example, if a show were
to have elderly women being disproportionately represented as criminals then it
begins to be instilled in the minds of the public that we should fear them –
based on a study by Howitt in 1988. He puts more weight on the significance of
this idea by finding that those who watched more TV were found to be more
likely to be influenced than those who don’t watch as much. Gerbner went on to
call this the ‘cultivation differential’

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Gerbner’s introduction to the idea of a ‘Cultivation Theory’
in the 1960s and 70s was at the forefront of any conversation of the topic and
spoke of a long-term effect that was both gradual and indirect yet still
significant to the everchanging perception of crime. To look at a different approach
to this theory could mean looking at the ideas put forward by Gross (1977) – that
‘television is a cultural arm of the established industrial order and as such
serves primarily to maintain, stabilize and reinforce rather than to alter,
threaten or weaken conventional beliefs and behaviours’ (Boyd- Barrett &
Braham 1987:100).