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The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility: Crime and Prisons in the Mass Media

Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 2010

14 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2010  

Leonidas K. Cheliotis

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Social Policy and Administration

Date Written: February 26, 2010

Abstract

This article aims to demonstrate that, despite their potential for cultivating communitarianism and deliberative democracy on a large scale, the mass media contribute decisively to the formation of punitiveness amongst the public by means of selective semiotic aestheticisation. They overstate the problem of crime; put the blame on marginalised cohorts and level heavy criticism against the administration of prisons purportedly for laxity; issue urgent calls for ever-greater reliance on the use of strict imprisonment by the authorities and the adoption of self-policing measures by local communities and private individuals; and either mute or neutralise the attendant hardships prisoners suffer at the hands of the state. Breaking with discourses of rational linearity, whereby distorted perceptions of criminal danger result in punitive reactions, the claim is made that the imagery of crime and punishment helps audiences resolve at the level of symbolic expression contradictions which remain unconsciously insoluble at the level of everyday life.

Keywords: crime, prisons, visibility, semiotic aestheticisation, the unconscious

Suggested Citation

Cheliotis, Leonidas K., The Ambivalent Consequences of Visibility: Crime and Prisons in the Mass Media (February 26, 2010). Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1560134

Leonidas K. Cheliotis (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Social Policy and Administration ( email )

Houghton Street
London, England WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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