Media and Control of Violence: Communication in School Shootings

  • Glenn W. Muschert
  • Massimo Ragnedda


This chapter examines school shootings to explore the role that communication processes play in the dynamics related to the control of violence. We argue that much of what we observe in regard to school shootings is a mass-media phenomenon. Many such acts of violence carry expressive, communicative connotations, and thus school shootings should be understood as discursive processes. We present a model for this understanding, specifying the participants (i.e., shooters, mass media, and the public) and the directionality of communication that dominate the discourse. In particular we explore the performative script behind many school shootings and the mass media’s role in the emergence of rampages as a social problem, with an examination of how this fits into the natural-history approach to social problems. The discussion concludes with an assessment of whether the shooters’ performative script is acknowledged in policy responses to school violence.


Social Problem Risk Tolerance School Violence Communicative Aspect School Shooting 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors acknowledge the encouragement of the research group on Control of Violence at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Bielefeld, Germany. In addition, the authors wish to acknowledge the research assistance of Tirth Bhatta.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and GerontologyMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Economia Istituzioni e SocietàUniversità degli Studi di SassariSassariItaly

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