#Crime pp 1-41 | Cite as

#Crime: The Theoretical Underpinnings

  • Rebecca M. Hayes
  • Kate Luther
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Crime, Media and Culture book series (PSCMC)


There is an extensive body of literature examining legacy media and crime, and over the past ten years scholars have begun to explore the impact of new media on crime. Traditional media theories were created at the time of broadcast culture and today’s culture is a digital one. Therefore, traditional theories may or may not hold weight with the advent of social media. This chapter begins by defining legacy media and new media, followed by a discussion of media consumption trends with particular attention to social media. Then, the chapter overviews a selection of key media theories—social construction, moral panics, and fear of crime/cultivation theory—on crime and examines the applicability of new media to each theory. The chapter concludes by discussing theories and concepts directly applicable to new media and crime such as theoretical work by Yar (2012) and other research regarding the impact of the internet, networking, and digital culture.


Media References

  1. BBC. (2015a, December 9). Paris attacks: What happened on the night. BBC. Retrieved from
  2. BBC. (2015b, November 23). Belgians tweet cat pictures during #BrusselsLockdown. BBC. Retrieved from
  3. Chu, B. (2016, June 26). Why did people really vote for Brexit? If we don’t face the psychological reasons, we’ll never bring Britain together. The Independent. Retrieved from
  4. Cottee, S. (2015, October 13). Europe’s moral panic about the migrant Muslim ‘other.’ LA Times. Retrieved from
  5. Crilly, R. (2015, December 16). Donald Trump on Muslims: ‘They’re not coming to this country if I’m president.’ The Telegraph. Retrieved from
  6. Luckerson, V. (2014, December 2). Fewer people than ever are watching TV. Time. Retrieved from
  7. McCarthy, T., & Jacobs, B. (2015, November 20). Muslim database and rabid dogs. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  8. Reuters. (2015, November 22). Timeline of Paris attacks and investigation. Reuters. Retrieved from
  9. Ronson, J. (2014, December 7). Serial: The Syed family on their pain and the five million detectives trying to work out of Adnan is a psychopath. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  10. Rutledge, P. (2015, November 17). Why social media matters in the Paris terrorist attacks. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
  11. Screen Media Daily. (2015). TV Viewership sees Double Digit decline, according to Accenture. Retrieved from
  12. Seymour, R. (2015, December 16). Far-right feasts on France’s unchecked Islamophobia. Aljazeera. Retrieved from
  13. Shirky, C. (2009). How social media can make history [Video file]. Retrieved from

Academic References

  1. Alexander, M. (2011). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bachman, J. G., Wallace, J. M., Jr., Kurth, C. L., Johnston, L. D., & O’Malley, P. M. (1990). Drug use among Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian American high school seniors (1976–1989): Prevalence, trends and correlates, Monitoring the Future Occasional Paper, 30 (pp. 1–57). Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
  3. Barak, G. (1988). Newsmaking criminology: Reflections on the media, intellectuals, and crime. Justice Quarterly, 5(4), 565–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barak, G. (1996). Representing O.J.: Murder, criminal justice and mass culture. Albany: Harrow and Heston.Google Scholar
  5. Barak, G. (2007). Doing newsmaking criminology from the academy. Retrieved from
  6. Barak, G. (2012). Mass media and the social construction of crime: A critique and implications for the future. Retrieved from
  7. Brown, W. J., Duane, J. J., & Fraser, B. P. (1997). Media coverage and public opinion of the O.J. Simpson trial: Implications for the criminal justice system. Communication Law and Policy, 2(2), 261–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bush-Baskette, S. (2010). Misguided justice. Bloomington: iUniverse.Google Scholar
  9. Carr, C. T., & Hayes, R. A. (2015). Social media: Defining, developing, and divining. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 23(1).
  10. Carrabine, E. (2008). Crime, culture and the media. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  11. Chiricos, T., Escholz, S., & Gertz, M. (1997). Crime, news, and fear of crime: Toward an identification of audience effects. Social Problems, 44(3), 342–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chiricos, T., Padgett, K., & Gertz, M. (2000). Fear, TV news, and the reality of crime. Criminology, 38(3), 755–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cohen, S. (1972). Folk devils and moral panics: The creation of the mods and the rockers. London: MacGibbon and Kee Ltd.Google Scholar
  14. Cohen, S. (2008). Folk devils and moral panics: The creation of the mods and the rockers (3rd ed.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, S. (2011). Whose side were we on? The undeclared politics of moral panic theory. Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 7(3), 237–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Critcher, C. (2003). Moral panics and the media. Buckingham: Open University.Google Scholar
  17. Critcher, C. (2011). For a political economy of moral panics. Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal, 7(3), 259–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. David, M., Rohloff, A., Petley, J., & Hughes, J. (2011). The idea of moral panic – Ten dimensions of dispute. Crime, Media & Culture, 7(3), 215–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. De Bens, E. (2004). Belgium. In M. Kelly, G. Mazzoleni, & D. McQuail (Eds.), The media in Europe: The euromedia handbook (pp. 145–157). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. DeKeseredy, W. S. & Schwartz, M. D. (2016). Thinking sociologically about image-based sexual abuse: The contribution of male peer support theory. Sexualization, Media & Society. Retrieved from
  21. Dershowitz, A. M. (1997). Reasonable doubts: The criminal justice system and the O.J. Simpson case. New York: Touchstone.Google Scholar
  22. Ditton, J., Chadee, D., Farrail, S., Gilchrist, E., & Bannister, J. (2004). From imitation to intimidation: A note on the curious and changing relationship between the media, crime and fear of crime. British Journal of Criminology, 44(4), 595–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Doob, A. N., & Macdonald, G. E. (1979). Television viewing and fear of victimization: Is the relationship causal? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32(2), 170–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., & Young, J. (2008). Cultural criminology: An invitation (1st ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  25. Ferrell, J., Hayward, K., & Young, J. (2012). Cultural criminology: An Invitation (1st ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  26. Franks, M. A. (2015, August 17). Drafting an effective ‘revenge porn’ law: A guide for legislators. SSRN. Retrieved from
  27. Garland, D. (2008). On the concept of moral panic. Crime, Media & Culture, 4(1), 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gauntlett, D. (2001). The worrying influence of ‘media effects’ studies. Retrieved from
  29. Gerbner, G., & Gross, L. (1976). Living with television: The violence profile. Journal of Communication, 26(2), 172–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1994). Growing up with television: The dynamics of the cultivation perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Perspectives of media effects (pp. 17–40). Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Giroux, H. A. (2006). Beyond the spectacle of terrorism: Global uncertainty and the challenge of new media. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Glaser, D. (1956). Criminality theories and behavioral images. American Journal of Sociology, 61(5), 433–444.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Goode, E., & Ben-Yehuda, N. (1994). Moral panics: The social construction of deviance. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Greer, C. (2007). News media, victims and crime. In P. Davies, P. Francis, & C. Greer (Eds.), Victims, crime and society (pp. 20–49). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Greer, C. (2010). News media criminology. In E. McLaughlin & T. Newburn (Eds.), The Sage handbook of criminological theory (pp. 490–513). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hale, C. (1996). Fear of crime: A review of the literature. International Review of Victimology, 4(2), 79–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J., & Roberts, B. (1978). Policing the crisis: Mugging, the state, and law and order. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J., & Roberts, B. (2013). Policing the crisis: Mugging, the state, and law and order. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hayes, R. M., & Levett, L. M. (2011). Jury’s still out: How television and crime show viewing influences jurors’ evaluations of evidence. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice, 7(1), 29–46.Google Scholar
  40. Heath, L., & Gilbert, K. (1996). Mass media and fear of crime. American Behavioral Scientist, 39(4), 379–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jamieson, P. E., & Romer, D. (2014). Violence in popular U.S. prime time TV dramas and the cultivation of fear: A time series analysis. Media and Communication, 2(2), 31–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jewkes, Y. (2004). Media & crime. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  43. Jewkes, Y. (2010). Media & crime (2nd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  44. Jewkes, Y. (2015). Media & crime (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  45. Kort-Butler, L. A., & Hartshorn, S. (2011). Watching the detectives: Crime programming, fear of crime, and attitudes about the criminal justice system. Sociology Quarterly, 52(1), 36–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lauf, E. (2001). Research note: The vanishing young reader. Sociodemographic determinants of newspaper use as a source of political information in Europe, 1980–98. European Journal of Communication, 16(2), 233–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McRobbie, A., & Thornton, S. (1995). Rethinking moral panic for a multi-mediated social world. British Journal of Sociology, 46, 559–574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Meyer, A. (2016). The Rotherham abuse scandal. In V. E. Cree, G. Clapton, & M. Smith (Eds.), Revisiting moral panics (pp. 324–367). Bristol: Policy Press.Google Scholar
  49. Morgan, M., Shanahan, J., & Signorielli, N. (2015). Yesterday’s new cultivation, tomorrow. Mass Communication & Society, 18, 674–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nalla, M., Johnson, J. D., & Hayes, R. M. (2011). Prior victimization, region, and neighborhood affects on fear of crime in Mumbai, India. Asian Journal of Criminology, 6, 141–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Neuman, W. L. (2011). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  52. Nielsen Report. (2016). The comparable metrics report: Q3 2015. Retrieved from
  53. Nielsen Report. (2017). The Nielsen comparable metrics report: Q3 2016. Retrieved from
  54. Oxford Dictionary. (2017). Social media. Retrieved from
  55. Papthanassopoulos, S., Coen, S., Curran, J., Aalberg, T., Rowe, D., & Jones, P. (2013). Online threat, but television is still dominant: A comparative study of 11 nations’ news consumption. Journalism Practice, (6), 690–704.Google Scholar
  56. Pew Research Center. (2016). State of the news media 2016. Retrieved from
  57. Pew Research Center. (2017). Social media fact sheet. Retrieved from
  58. Riley, A. (2016). Brexit: Causes and consequences. Barcelona Center for International Affairs. Retrieved from
  59. Roberts, S. (2015). Benefit tourism: A moral panic. Conference Free Movement of Workers and Social Security Coordination. Conference Paper.Google Scholar
  60. Roche, S. P., Pickett, J. T., & Gertz, M. (2016). The scary world of online news? Internet news exposure and public attitudes towards crime and justice. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 32(2), 215–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rohloff, A. (2011). Extending the concept of moral panic: Elias, climate change and civilization. Sociology, 45(4), 634–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Romer, D., Jamieson, K. H., & Aday, S. (2003). Television news and the cultivation of fear of crime. Journal of Communication, 53(1), 88–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Salter, M. (2017). Crime, justice and social media. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  64. Salter, M., & Crofts, T. (2015). Responding to revenge porn: Challenging online legal impunity. In L. Comella & S. Tarrant (Eds.), New views on pornography: Sexuality, politics and the law (pp. 233–253). Santa Barbara: Praeger Publisher.Google Scholar
  65. Shanahan, J., & Morgan, M. (1999). Television and its viewers: Cultivation theory and research. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Skogan, W. G., & Maxfield, M. G. (1981). Coping with crime: Individual and neighborhood reactions. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  67. Smith, C. (2015). Revenge porn or consent and privacy: An analysis of the harmful digital communications act 2015. Student Research Paper. Retrieved from
  68. Statista. (2016). Statistics and facts about social media usage. Retrieved from
  69. Surette, R. (2013). Pathways to copycat crime. In J. B. Helfgott (Ed.), Criminal psychology (pp. 251–273). Santa Barbara: Praeger.Google Scholar
  70. Surette, R. (2015). Media, crime, & criminal justice: Images, realities, and policies (5th ed.). Stamford: Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  71. Surette, R. (2016). Measuring copycat crime. Crime, Media, Culture, 12, 37–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Surette, R., & Gardiner-Bess, R. (2014). Media, entertainment, and crime: Prospects and concerns. In B. A. Arrigo & H. Y. Bersot (Eds.), Routledge handbook of international of crime and justice studies (pp. 373–396). Abingdon/Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. Surette, R., & Otto, C. (2001). The media’s role in the definition of crime. In M. Lanier & S. Henry (Eds.), What is crime controversies of crime and what to do about it (pp. 139–154). New York: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  74. Thompson, K. (1998). Moral panics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  75. University of Minnesota. (nd). Technological advances: From the printing press to the iPhone. Retrieved from Scholar
  76. Waddington, P. A. J. (1986). Mugging as a moral panic: A question of proportion. British Journal of Sociology, 37(2), 245–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wallace, J. M., Jr., Bachman, J. G., O’Malley, P. M., Schulenberg, J.E., Cooper, S. M., Johnston, L.D. (2002). Gender and ethnic differences in smoking, drinking, and illicit drug use among American 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students, 1976–2000. Research Report. Retrieved from
  78. Warr, M. (1984). Fear of victimization: Why are women and the elderly more afraid? Social Science Quarterly, 65, 681–702.Google Scholar
  79. Welch, M. (2006). Scapegoats of September 11th: Hate crimes and state crimes in the war on terror. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  80. Wikipedia. (2017). Social media. Retrieved from
  81. Wilkins, L. T. (1984). Consumerist criminology. London: Hienmann. RI Inactive Titles.Google Scholar
  82. Yar, M. (2012). E-Crime 2.0: The criminological landscape of new social media. Information & Communications Technology Law, 21(3), 207–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca M. Hayes
    • 1
  • Kate Luther
    • 2
  1. 1.Central Michigan UniversityMount PleasantUSA
  2. 2.Pacific Lutheran UniversityTacomaUSA

Personalised recommendations