"Manufacturing White Criminals: Depictions of Criminality and Violence on 'Law & Order'"
December 29, 2017, 06:55 PM
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Commenter North Carolina Resident points out this academic study from Cogent Social Sciences:

Manufacturing white criminals: Depictions of criminality and violence on Law & Order

Andrew G. Selepak & Jason Cain | Claudia Alvares (Reviewing Editor)

Article: 1104977 | Received 11 Jul 2015, Accepted 03 Oct 2015, Published online: 01 Nov 2015

Abstract This study examines exposure to the police drama television genre and its impact on perceptions of crime and racial criminality. Content analyses of three seasons of Law & Order were examined to evaluate the show’s portrayal of race and crime compared to actual crime statistics for New York City during the same periods. A survey was also conducted to examine perceptions of personal safety and the influence of television’s depiction of race and crime. Results suggest whites are disproportionately portrayed as criminals five to eight times more often on police dramas compared to actual crime statistics for the city of New York, exposure to police dramas increases beliefs of threats to personal safety, and exposure to police dramas leads to elevated perceptions of white criminality among non-whites. Results provide additional support for cultivation theory and “Mean World Syndrome,” and implications for delimitation and racial distrust.

Public Interest Statement

This study examines how the police drama television show Law & Order portrays race and crime and the impact these depictions have on viewers. By examining seasons of Law & Order, the study found whites were shown as violent criminals on the show in exaggerated proportions compared to real-world crime statistics for New York City where the show is set. A survey of those who watched police dramas showed viewers were more likely to believe they would be victims of violence than those who did not watch. The results also showed that non-white viewers of Law & Order were more likely to believe whites commit more crime than non-whites who did not watch. The conclusions drawn from the study were that Law & Order creates a false impression of white criminality and this impression is remembered and accepted by non-white viewers.

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