Political bias in the media 2019

Examples of right wing media bias from the filthy Daily Mail, from the 2019 general election.

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There’s nothing quite like a General Election to reveal the bias in mainstream newspapers, which is a major topic within the media option for A-level sociology.

I mean, we all know that the mainstream news is biased, but during elections, any attempt to report political events in a fair or neutral way just seems to disappear altogether.

In the case of the the UK’s most widely circulated, and most offensive, newspaper, The Daily Mail, even the most cursory discourse analysis reveals a very strong pro Tory and anti Labour stance, often framed as ‘pro-Bexit and anti-Brexit, and also often personablised as pro Boris and anti Corbyn.

Below are a few examples from the filth that is the Daily Mail.

‘Vote Boris’

I mean could the pro Tory bias be any clearer?!?

Corbyn in the Dock

Corbyn on trial – implies he’s done something so wrong as to be accused of being a criminal. And next to it an assertion by Boris presented as truth.

Labour’s Brexit Portrayal

So here the headline moves away from the personal attacks, but we’re back to it underneath – with a ‘sneering’ Corbyn, implying he’s somehow evil and arrogant, not caring about the people.

Corbyn’s Two Fingers to Leavers…

This is probably the most disgusting headline of all: as if Jeremy Corbyn is that flippant about how leavers feel, and as if the issue is that simple.

And finally: how to help the Torys win…

Conclusions

Mainstream newspapers may be less well circulated than ever, but they do offer a very easy insight into just how biased they can be. And if this bias is in the print version, you can be it’s in the online versions, and not just at election times, although at less fraught times, the bias will be a lot subtler!

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Can religion lead gang members away from crime?

The short answer is yes: ex gang members who join a religious ‘support’ programme as a way out of crime have lower re-offending rates. However, the re-offending rates of those who quit such programmes have higher reoffending rates than those who never took part at all!

This is according to some recent research summarized in this interesting Thinking Allowed podcast. The research summarized is clearly relevant to both the beliefs in society module and the crime and deviance module.

The podcast starts off with a discussion of what gangs are, focusing mainly on how uncritically the term is used.

There’s an especially interesting discussion on labelling as applied to gangs and how naming a gang can sometimes be enough to bring it into existence.

There is also commentary on how the gang label is typically applied to groups of young people, and how it has racial connotations, being applied more to black youth.

The podcast then moves onto routes into gangs, outlining how various ‘causal factors’ have been identified through research, such as poverty, deprivation, and childhood trauma.

However research on causes is a bit 1990s, and the focus today is more on routes out of crime, or what criminologists call desistance

Desistance: Routes out of Crime

This episode of Thinking Allowed finishes off with a summary of Professor Ross Deuchar‘s work on the routes out of gangs.

He has spent time with gang members who have served their time for gang related offenses and in a liminal phase, trying to transition away from gang life, and his research has a real global focus, he’s researched desistance in Scotland, the US and Asia.

Previous research of his highlighted the fact that traditional, or hegemonic masculinity played a big part in gang members criminality – much of the violence was about playing out a hyper masculine role.

His research shows that religious groups offering therapeutic support to ex gang members have a higher success rate than usual in helping ex gang members to desist from crime.

He suggests this might be because the focus on spirituality (rather than dogma) allows for a deepening awareness of self an others and it helps ex-gang members learn how to be men in different ways to previously.

There is a lot more to this podcast, and I suggest you check it out, click the link above to find out more!

Functionalism in Pictures

A selection of images to represent some of the main Functionalist concepts for A level sociology. Concepts covered include the organic analogy, socialisation, integration, regulation, anomie and more!

Pictures are a powerful tool for simplifying key concepts in A-level sociology. In this post I select what I think are some of the most relevant pictures which represent some of the key concepts relevant to the Functionalist perspective on society.

The Organic Analogy/ society as a system

Institutions in society work together, like  organs in a body

Social Structure

Society’s Structure is made up of institutions

Social Facts

Durkheim theorized that social facts were ways of thinking, feeling and acting which were external to the individual and which constrained the individual.

Value Consensus

Society is based on shared values

Social Evolution

Societies gradually become more complex over time.

Mechanical and Organic Solidarity

Functional Fit Theory

The nuclear family emerged to ‘fit’ industrial society

Socialisation

Individuals learn the norms and values of society, within institutions

Stabilisation of Adult Personalities

Traditional gender roles within the nuclear family provide necessary emotional and psychological support for individuals.

Meritocracy

Individuals are rewarded on the basis of effort + ability. Both meritocracy and role allocation are key ideas in the Functionalist perspective on education.

Role Allocation

Where the exam system ‘sifts’ people into appropriate jobs based on their level of achievement

Social Integration

The more connections people have to others and institutions within society, the more integrated they are.

Social Regulation

Social regulation is the extent to which there are clear norms and value (‘rules’) which guide people in life.

Anomie

Anomie is a state of normlessness, brought on by rapid social change or breakdown. Lack of social integration or regulation can both lead to anomie

Functionalism in pictures final thoughts

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list of concepts, or definitive definitions, the idea of this post is to ‘simplify to the extreme’. For more in depth posts on Functionalism, please follow the links on my Theory and Methods page!

Competition …. Win REVISE tokens!

Post a picture in the comments of a picture which you think represents a Functionalist concept, along with a short (20-100 words) explanation of why it’s a relevant picture.

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded purely at my own sole discretion.

  • First prize – 50 REVISE
  • Second prize – 30 REVISE
  • Third prize – 15 REVISE
  • First ten entries all receive 2 REVISE each, just for entering!
  • If you submit a hand-drawn original work of art or photo as part of your entry I’ll gift you 10 REVISE!

I’m going to make this a 6 month rolling competition and these prizes are going to be awarded EVERY MONTH – from December 2019 until May 2020.

WTF are ‘REVISE’ tokens?

The REVISE token is ‘ReviseSociology.com’ token. It’s basically a crypto-currency I’ve conjured out of virtual space which you can use on the site.

REVISE tokens can be redeemed for money off my revision resources and revision Webinars, all for sale in my Sellfy shop.

You’ll need a Steem account to receive your REVISE tokens. Steem is a decentralised, censorship resistant cryptocurrency based social media platform. You can sign up here, or drop me an email if you’d like a free account. Once you’ve got an account, I can send you your tokens!

NB signing up is a bit of a mission, but I’m on Steem myself and can thoroughly recommend it. Unfortunately there isn’t a viable way for me to truly integrated this Word Press site and my Steem account, so at this stage this is all separate. Integration will hopefully come in the future.

It’s just a bit of fun at this stage!

Redeeming REVISE tokens

ATM this process isn’t automated (it would cost me a fortune to pay someone to integrate all of this!) but if you want to purchase something and you’ve got some REVISE, just contact me (on here, on Steem, or via mail), tell me what you want to purchase and I’ll sort out a discount based on how many REVISE you’ve got!

You’ll need a Steem account to send me back the REVISE tokens so I can issue you the discount voucher.

If you would like a FREE INSTANT steem account, drop me a line, I’ve got about 100 free accounts I can give away!

The redeemable value of the revise token is a % off your purchase. So if you have 50 Revise then you get 50% off the purchase price. If you have 10 revise tokens, you get 10% off the purchase price.

This is up to a maximum discount of 100% of the purchase price!

You can also buy (and sell!) REVISE tokens on steem-engine.

Good luck with the competition and all the technicalities and working out the math!

Please post your competition entries in the comments below!

Strictly Sociological

Who doesn’t love a bit of Strictly Come Dancing?

But if this years Strictly judges were sociologists, what perspective would they represent?

Marxist Craig Revel Horwood

The most critical judge, who doesn’t mind speaking the truth even when it makes him unpopular. The closest thing to a Marxist on Strictly, in the loosest possible sense of the word.

Black Feminist Motsi Mabuse

I’ve no idea whether she’s a Feminist, but she is black and a woman, and clearly not held back by any of that beauty myth size 0 body image nonsense, so I’m taking a cheap shot with Black Feminism, go girl!

Social Action Theorist Shirley Ballas

Of all the judges, Shirley is probably the one who looks closest at the contestants’ technique, and gives useful advice on the micro details of their performance, more so than any of the others. I guess that’s why she’s head judge, and the nearest thing to a social action theorist on Strictly.

Postmodernist Bruno Tonioli

Sooorrreey Bruno, I mean you’re lovely and all, but all you do in your feedback is tell people how fantabulous they are -and loving everything with lack of critical input, makes you a postmodernist at heart. Nice, but mostly useless, unless you’ve accepted the need for Therapeutic feedback.

Functionalist Len Goodman

Well as near as you can get – he was born in the 1940s, the Functionalist era, and he inspires Value Consensus nearly as much as David Attenborough. I mean, everyone loves Len don’t they?

And the fact that he’s retired reminds us of just how dated Functionalism is!

Conclusions

I’m sure you can use anything to teach the perspectives for A-level sociology.

Just a bit of pre-Christmas fun! I enjoyed writing that, cheers!

Crime and Deviance Teaching Resource Bundle

I’ve just release a new crime and deviance teaching resource bundle as part of my A-level sociology teaching resource subscription

This teaching resource bundle contains everything teachers need to deliver 10-hour long lessons in the sociology of crime and deviance for A level sociology.  

Each lesson includes a student work-pack, supplementary resources such as PowerPoints, a detailed lesson plan and numerous lesson activities including starters, plenaries and links to some Socrative quizzes.

There is also some material on exams or formal assessment, but the main focus of these lessons is on content delivery rather than revision. If you’re interested in more assessment resources please see my you might like my various ‘revision bundles’, assessment details are contained within the relevant documents in each of these.

The resources have been designed for A-level sociology and cover the core themes on the AQA’s specification but are suitable for new 16-19 students studying any specification.

An overview of the ten introductory lessons:

  1. An introduction to Crime and Deviance
  2. An introduction to crime statistics
  3. Applying sociological perspectives to the London Riots
  4. Consensus theories of crime review lesson
  5. The Marxist perspective on crime lesson 1
  6. The Marxist perspective on crime lesson 2
  7. Research and letter- to MP writing lesson on corporate and white-collar crime
  8. The Right Realist perspective on crime lesson 1
  9. The Right Realist perspective on crime lesson 2
  10. Researching Right and Left Realist policy solutions to knife crime.

Resources in the bundle include:

  • Five student workbooks covering all of the above lessons
  • Eight Power Points covering most of the above lessons (not for riots or the corporate crime research lesson.
  • 10 lesson plans covering all of the above lessons.
  • Various supplementary hand-outs for some of the above lessons as necessary.
  • Starters and plenaries for crime and deviance
  • Extensive gap-fill crime and deviance revision grids with answers.
  • Full crime and deviance scheme of work.

Fully modifiable resources

Every teacher likes to make resources their own by adding some things in and cutting other things out – and you can do this with both the work pack and the PowerPoints because I’m selling them in Word and PPT, rather than as PDFs, so you can modify them!

NB – I have had to remove most the pictures I use personally, for copyright reasons, but I’m sure you can find your own to fit in. It’s obvious where I’ve taken them out!

Are police officers really 100 times less criminal than the general population?

189 police officers have been convicted across 12 police forces in England in Wales in five years since 2013 , according to a recent FOI request (source: The Telegraph). This equates to just 37.8 police officer convictions each year.

According to Full Fact, there were 126, 300 total police officers in England and Wales in March 2019.

This gives us a police officer conviction rate of 0.03% per year – that is to say that 0.03% of police officers are convicted of a crime each year.

1.38 million people in the general population were prosecuted in the year (CJS Stats, 2018)

A very rough estimate for the number of adults in England and Wales is around 50 million, so this gives us a rough adult conviction rate of 2.76 per year.

This means the Police officer conviction rate is 100 times less than that for the population as a whole.

How accurate are these statistics?

Personally I’m sceptical about the police officer conviction rate.

Despite the fact that the police probably are less likely to commit crime – I mean it kind of goes with the job, not committing crime, and then there’s the embarrassment of getting caught even if you are criminally inclined, which I imagine would be a further deterrent, I still think there’s a lot of criminal police officers whose crimes are just not getting detected.

I imagine you’d be less likely to be suspected of a crime – I mean the police themselves aren’t going to get stopped and searched are they?

Then there’s the fact that prosecutors might be more reluctant to prosecute police because it makes the system look flawed.

Then of course there’s all those things which won’t be defined as criminal because it’s the police doing them in the line of duty – such as speeding and violence, and drug possession come to think of it.

Sociological Perspectives on Hate Crime

What is Hate Crime?

The Home Office defines Hate Crime as ‘

‘Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic.’ (Hate Crime, England and Wales, 2018-19).

There are five main characteristics which the police monitor…..

  • race or ethnicity
  • religion or beliefs
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • transgender identity.

However this is not an exhaustive list and hate crimes can also be committed on the basis of age or gender, and there are calls to include misogyny (hatred of women) as a hate crime.

Hate crimes typically include any of the following acts motivated by ‘hatred’ against any of the above characteristics….

  • Assault with or without injury
  • Harassment
  • Causing fear, alarm or distress
  • Criminal Damage

All of these crimes can also be committed in general, but if a victim feels they were motivated by hatred of their religion or gender identity etc. then the police must record the act as a hate crime.

Trends in Hate Crime

Trends in hate crime vary significantly depending on where you get your data…

Police recorded Hate Crime reports that there were 103,379 Hate Crimes in England and Wales in 2018/19, an increase of 50% over the last five years:

However, the 2018-19 Crime Survey for England and Wales shows a decline in Hate Crime the estimated number of hate crime incidents experienced by adults aged 16 has fell by 40 percent from 307,000 in the combined 2007/08 and 2008/09 surveys to 184,000 in the combined 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 surveys.

Thus it’s possibly best to reject the Police Recorded Crime Stats as being invalid as a measurement of the total amount of Hate Crime committed, given that around 50% of CSEW Hate Crimes are not picked up by the police.

Sociological Perspectives on Hate Crime

Many of the earlier perspectives seem pretty ineffective at explaining this type of crime. You’d probably have a hard time trying to apply Functionalism, for example: by definition these crimes are divisive, and a reflection of conflict in society, rather than social integration, and it’s hard to see how this particular type of crime could be regarded as functional for society or in any way positive.

Similarly with other consensus theories: there’s little evidence that a breakdown of social control, a strain in society, or of subcultures being significant causal factors (at least no more than with any other type of crime) of hate crime… many of these crimes are committed by lone individuals.

It’s possible to apply Interactionism to help understand religiously motivated crime motivated by Islamophobia, given the general negative press coverage of Islam, focussing mainly on infrequent terror attacks when they happen. However, this doesn’t explain hate-crimes agains other religions or minority groups. There’s hardly a moral panic against the LGBT community for example!

Rational Choice Theory (from Right Realism) could partially explain hate crime – possibly some of the perpetrators feel as if there’s little chance of them being caught harassing their victims because the ‘general public sentiment’ is on their side, so they won’t be reported.

This does seem to be a very postmodern crime – in that it’s a negative response to the increased visibility of minority groups and the increase in Diversity in British culture in recent years, although this is a very general level of theoretical explanation.

Possibly hate crime is a reaction to the increased relative deprivation and a feeling of marginalisation experienced by the perpetrators? Maybe they feel as if everything ‘diverse’ and ‘minority’ is being celebrated and has a place in British Culture but that more traditional British culture now has no place? So maybe there’s a possible application of Left Realism to be made here.

Conclusions>?

Hate Crime is a difficult crime to understand. It seems that many of the perspectives simply don’t apply to it, and those that do only seem to apply at the most general level.

So maybe this is a type of crime that defies sociological explanation?

NB – there may be quite a lot of it, but remember that if you take the CSEW stats, hate crime is actually going down, while the police seem to be getting better at reporting it, so whatever the causes, maybe it’s not all bad?!?

Representations of men in the media

This post focuses on traditional representations of men as reinforcing aspects of hegemonic masculinity before considering some of the changes to male representations in more recent years.

Traditional representations of men reinforce hegemonic masculinity

Traditional representations of men have ascribed certain attributes to male characters such as strength, power, control, authority, rationality and lack of emotion. In other words, media representations of men have reinforced hegemonic masculinity.

Gilmore has summarised this even more simply, arguing that the media stereotype men into ‘the provider, the protector and the impregnator’.

Violence as a normal part of masculinity  

According to Earp and Katz (1999) the media have provided us with a steady stream of images which define violence as an ordinary or normal part of masculinity, or in their own words….

“The media help construct violent masculinity as a cultural norm. Media discourse reveals the assumption that violence is not so much a deviation but an accepted part of masculinity”.

Wider representations of men and masculinity

Children Now (1999) conducted research in the late 1990s and found that there were six common types of representation of men in the media

  • The joker – uses laughter to avoid displaying seriousness or emotion
  • The jock – demonstrates his power and strength to win the approval of other men and women
  • The strong silent type (James Bond) – being in charge, acting decisively, controlling emotion and succeeding with women.
  • The big shot – power comes from professional status
  • The action hero – strong and shows extreme aggression and violence
  • The Buffoon – a bungling father figure, well intentioned and light hearted. (Homer). Hopeless at domestic affairs.

(Boys to Men: Media Messages About Masculinity, Children Now 1999).

The Crisis of Masculinity, the New Man and changing representations of masculinity

As with women, the changing roles of men in society are reflected in changing representations of men in the media.

Representations of men are moving away from absolute toughness, stubborn self-reliance and emotional silence with more male characters being comfortable with showing emotions and seeking advice about how to deal with the problems of masculinity.

There are also an increasing amount of images within advertising which encourage men to be concerned with body image and appearance as well as a sexualisation of male bodies, in which they are presented as sex objects for female viewing pleasure, much in the same way as female bodies have been traditionally been used by the media.

The social construction of crime

A key idea in the sociology of crime and deviance is that crime is socially constructed which means that whether an act is criminal or not is determined by social processes. In the case of crime, the introduction of new Acts of Parliament which change the law constantly change the nature of crime.

As a result, there are many things that were not illegal in the past which are criminal and thus illegal now.

A brief timeline of some recent changes to the law illustrate this…

1973 – Motorcycle helmets made compulsory

Before 1973 it was perfectly legal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, not so from 1973.

(Source)

1991 – rape within marriage made illegal.

Previous to this it was held that men could not rape women within marriage, because the marriage union was equivalent to consensual sex at any time. The illegality of rape within marriage was not formalised until the 2003 sexual offenses act.

Source: The Week

1994 – informally organised Raves made illegal (sort of)

In 1994 The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was aimed at clamping down on anti-social behaviour. It effectively gave the police new powers to break up raves, or any informally arranged gathering of 100 or more people listening to music involving a series of repetitive beats.

The 1992 Castlemorton rave, the biggest ever informally organised rave in British history, is one of the events that led to the establishment of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Anti-Social Behaviour Act…

NB the act didn’t technically make it illegal for you and your mates to organise a rave, it just makes it easier for the police to break them up, slap an injunction order on you, and then arrest you the next time for breaking the injunction order.

This notorious act also made it easier for the police to break up road protests, move on travellers and arrest hunt saboteurs.

Source:Wiki

2007 – the smoking ban

Made it illegal to smoke indoors in public places such as public transport and bars.

2016 – The Psychoactive Substance Act

In 2016 the selling of so called ‘legal high’s such as Spice was made illegal through the  the psychoactive substance act

Acts restricting (or allowing) the use of psychoactive substances are useful examples in themselves to illustrate how ‘crime’ is socially constructed. While the UK has been toughening up its drug laws increasing numbers of states in America have been making the growing and sale of cannabis legal.

2020 – parents to be banned from smacking children in Wales (probably )

Smacking your children isn’t illegal in England, at least as long as you don’t leave any physical signs of bruising on them, but there is currently an act going through the Welsh parliament that aims to ban the physical punishment of children by parents outright. It looks set to pass at some point in near future.

Putting it all together…

So in 1972 you could have drunk a couple of pints in the pub while smoking (in the pub), organised an attended a quick Rave with your mates with all of you high on Spice (or whatever so called ‘legal highs’ existed in 1972), ridden back home on your bike without your helmet on (assuming you were within the drink driving limits) and then forced yourself on your wife without her explicit consent, and non of that would have been illegal, thus you would have committed no crime.

At out the same scenario today and you’d be breaking multiple laws and looking at a lengthy jail term.

NB this post makes no judgement about the morality of any of the above acts or laws, it’s merely to highlight the extent to which crime is socially constructed.

Further info/ find out more…

Drug timeline UK https://www.theweek.co.uk/65464/when-was-cannabis-made-illegal-in-the-uk

Why has moped-enabled crime declined?

the decline of moped-enabled theft seems to support the view that right realist crime control techniques are effective

Moped-enabled crime was frequently headline news back in 2017: the typical story focussing on helmeted youths on stolen mopeds snatching mobile phones or doing smash and grab raids on jewellery shops.

In the summer of 2017 it seemed like no one was safe from this mobile-threat – even Michael Macintyre had his Range Rover window smashed and his watch stolen. But celebrities were just the tip of the victim iceberg: at its peak moped-criminals were targetting over 50 victims a day

However, Moped-enabled crime has more than halved since its peak in 2017, and so it would seem that the police and other agencies have responded effectively with appropriate policies and been successful in keeping this type of crime under control.

To my mind this seems to be a great example of the successful application of several right realist policies of crime control, a combination of target hardening and a more ‘Zero Tolerance’ approach to dealing with moped-criminals.

Statistics on Moped-Enabled Crime

The number of moped-enabled crimes rose rapidly

Police recorded crime stats are quite dramatic: with an approximate 5 times increase in moped-enable theft being recorded from the beginning of 2016 to the middle of 2017, from when we see a correspondingly rapid decline.

According to Full Fact, some of rapid increase in 20187 was due to improved recording practices, but

How do we Explain the (Rapid) Decline in Moped-Enabled Crime?

This seems to be a straightforward case of the police adopting tougher ‘right realist’ style control measures.

  • Firstly, and most dramatically, they have adopted the policy of ramming escaping moped thieves, apparently getting over their concern about being prosecuted for harming these criminals.
  • Secondly, they have introduced other, more sophisticated ‘chase’ technologies such as slimline bikes and remote control stinger devices to puncture tyres.
  • Thirdly, the courts are adopting tough measures to deal with some moped criminals, as evidenced here with the case of the moped gang who received a 67 year prison sentence between them.
  • Fourthly, there have been education/ awareness campaigns to encourage moped users to enhance their bike security, and the general public to be more aware when using their mobiles.

Limitations of right realist crime control techniques

Moped-enabled crime still remains at a relatively high level compared to 2016, which possible reflects one of main limitations of right realist techniques of crime control: they don’t address the underlying causes of crime.

IF left-leaning perspectives such as Left Realism are correct, then the stock of people who might engage in moped-enable theft are still out there – those who are marginalised and relatively deprived and who lack the means to earn ‘serious money’…..

It follows that police control tactics such as those outlined above will only work as long as the government funding is in place to pay for it!

Find out more…..

For further information follow the links embedded above, or use the sources below….

The Daily Mail2018Moped crime in London more than HALVES a year after police started ramming suspects off their bikes
ONS2018Fall in moped crime as multi-agency taskforce produces results
The Guardian2018Moped-enabled crimes: London police called to 430 a week in past year
gov.co.uk2017https://www.london.gov.uk/questions/2017/3845
MET2018https://www.met.police.uk/SysSiteAssets/foi-media/metropolitan-police/disclosure_2018/august_2018/information-rights-unit—crimes-involving-mopeds-and-motorbikes-in-london-from-2013-to-2017
Full Fact 2018Is Moped Crime Rising in London
Telegraph2019Moped Gang jaild for 67 years
Telegraph2019https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2cHjvt3ztU