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Media influences and effects on experiences of uncertainty and fear in urban public spaces

Paper i proceeding
Författare Gabriella Sandstig
Publicerad i Conference paper IAMCR 2010, 18-22 July 2010 Braga, Portugal
Publiceringsår 2010
Publicerad vid Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMG)
Språk en
Ämnesord media effects, third person effects, third person effect hypothesis, cultivation theory, urban, public space, fear, insecurity
Ämneskategorier Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap

Sammanfattning

From the point of a normative idea of equality, all citizens are entitled to equal access to the cities public spaces. In the public debate, the media have often been blamed for contributing to peoples fear and insecurity and the avoidance of public places, especially after dark. In this paper I address the question of how and to what extent experiences of risk and threats in the media, perceptions of crime coverage in the media and third-person-effects of risk and threats influence the degree of avoidance of public places and the variation in people’s experiences of the sensation of feeling fear and insecurity in public places. The main results presented here are primarily based on survey data from a well known regional survey (Western-SOM) performed in 2001–2007 on approximately 3000 inhabitants in the local region of Gothenburg, Sweden. Experiences of risk and threats through the media are of minor importance for the independent effect on the experiences of the sensation of feeling fear and insecurity in public spaces. The main role of the media is through the perceptions the respondents have on media coverage on crime and media influence on their own and others experiences of threats and risks. Those that believe that media coverage on crime is underrated have to a greater extent avoided public places and experienced the sensation of feeling fear and insecurity than those that believe that media coverage of crime is coherent with reality or overrated. The third-person-effects that occur also have consequences. Those that believe that media influence (both others and their own or others more than their own) experiences of threats and risks, have to a greater extent experienced the sensation of feeling fear and insecurity than those that doesn’t believe in media influence (on both others and themselves). The main conclusion presented in this paper is that the avoidance of public places and variation in people’s experiences of the sensation of feeling fear and insecurity in public places is more related to people’s perceptions of media content and media influence regarding risk and threats than to experiences of risk and threats through he media. This however doesn’t mean that the experience of risk and threats through the media doesn’t matter. Experience of risk and threats through the media matters, but do so through reinforcing personal and social experiences of risk and threats.

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