Abstract

The discussion of race and crime has been a long-standing interest of researchers, with statistics consistently showing an overrepresentation of non-white offenders compared to their white counterparts – specifically in relation to violent crimes such as murder and rape. Prior research has found that about 46 percent of serial rapists are black, a fact that correlates with other sensationalized violent crimes such as mass murder and serial murder. The news media are the primary sources of this kind of information for the general public, with previous studies acknowledging that the media primarily focus on discussing non-white offenders in their crime-based news stories. With the majority of Americans receiving their information about crime from the news media, it is important to increase our understanding of how their representations might influence the general public. The current study explores the print media representations of serial rapists, from 1940-2010, from five newspapers: The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. A content analysis was conducted on 524 articles covering 297 serial rape offenders from the data compiled by Wright, Vander Ven, and Fesmire (2016) in which race of the offender was known. Results show that newspaper articles tend to report about fear-related topics and anxiety surrounding offenders when the offenders are non-white. Results also indicate that while newspapers dehumanize both white and non-white offenders, white offenders tend to have their behavior neutralized using techniques to garner more sympathy.

Graduation Date

2017

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Huff-Corzine, Lin

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Sociology

Degree Program

Sociology

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0006674

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0006674

Language

English

Release Date

May 2017

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Sociology Commons

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