Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology

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SAGE Publications, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 268 pages
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"Media Violence and Aggression is a thoughtful and sophisticated work that dismantles the core assumptions of the media violence hypothesis piece by piece...This book makes several core contributions to the discussion on media violence effects above those seen in other critical works."
—Christopher J. Ferguson, PsycCRITIQUES

The authors of Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology, Tom Grimes, James A. Anderson, and Lori Bergen, are determined to leave no stone unturned, no perspectives unexplored, no names left unnamed of those in the field with whom, on both empirical and theoretical grounds, they strenuously disagree. It is an engaging book that needed to be and is up close and personal. In so doing, they have produced what may be the most comprehensive critique and rebuttal to date of the omnipresent media-violence and aggression argument."

Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology provides a multimethod critique of the media violence/social aggression myth. It provides policy makers and students with information to understand why the violence/media aggression hypothesis does not explain or predict how most people react to what they see and hear in the media. Authors Tom Grimes, James A. Anderson, and Lori Bergen take the reader through a history of media effects research, pointing out where that research has made claims that go beyond empirical evidence.

Key Features

  • Dispels the media violence/social aggression myth: Through a multiple method analysis of the myth, the authors provide empirical evidence for their decoupling of media violence from social aggression.
  • Illustrates how much of the media violence/social aggression equation derives from ideology: Taking a different perspective from most other books on media violence, this text shows how very easy—how almost imperceptible—it is to adopt an ideological perspective.
  • Shows how the media violence/social aggression hypothesis conflicts with a range of established social science theory: The book examines why theories generated by media violence/social aggression advocates aren't compatible with other social science theories that explain human behavior (and why they must be compatible in order to achieve validity).
  • Considers media effects for the general population and psychologically unwell people: The book explains that the clinical population's reactions to media violence are often improperly presumed to be the reaction of the general, psychologically well population.
  • Argues that certain science practitioners view children as more psychologically vulnerable to media violence than they actually are: Children are surely more vulnerable to many social and environmental influences than adults, but the degree of media vulnerability is often overstated.
  • Speaks directly to policy makers: This book helps policy makers sort through both the nature of the evidence they are presented with and the risks that such evidence poses to the public.

Intended Audience

This is an ideal text for graduate courses such as Mass Communication Theory, Media and Society, Media Effects, and Research Methods in Media in the departments of communication, media studies, journalism, sociology, cultural studies, and political science. It is also vital reading for scholars, researcher, and policy makers interested in media effects.

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Setting the Stage 1
The Epistemology of Media Effects
The Social Scientific Theory That Never Quite Fit

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About the author (2008)

Tom Grimes (Ph.D., Indiana University) is Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. Grimes spent 12 years in broadcast journalism, which included work at WCBS-TV and ABC News in New York, and as news anchor and news director at KERA-TV in Dallas, Texas. When Grimes entered the academic profession in 1986, he became a research fellow and faculty member at the Mass Communication Research Center, which is located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication. Grimes held the Ross Beach Chair in Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University from 1991 to 2007

Grimes is the author of 43 research studies, some of which have appeared in journals including Human Communication Research, Communication Research, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Health Communication, and the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and in anthologies of research, such as Communication Yearbook. He continues to work professionally, pro bono, for Kansas Public Television. Grimes also holds a non-paying appointment as adjunct professor of Clinical Child Psychology at The University of Kansas’s Clinical Child Psychology Program.

James A. Anderson, Ph.D. (University of Iowa), Professor of Communication and Director of the Center for Communication and Community in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. He is the author/co-author/editor of 17 books. His more than 100 chapters, articles, and research monographs are in the areas of family studies, cultural studies, media literacy, organizational studies, communicative ethics, methodology, and epistemology. Professor Anderson has been recognized as a “Master Teacher” by the Western States Communication Association and was recently given the Distinguished Scholar Award by the Broadcast Education Association. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association. He is an active consultant in university administration, distance learning, and applied technology.

Lori Bergen, Ph.D., is Associate Professor in the A. Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University. She was formerly Associate Director of the Miller School, where she teaches mass communication ethics, reporting, PR writing, research methods and media literacy. Her research about newspapers, journalists, children and television violence appears in Newspaper Research Journal, Journal of Health Communication, Human Communication Research and Mass Communication & Society.
Bergen served on the national press staff for a 1980 presidential campaign, worked for newspapers and magazines in Kansas and Indiana during the 1980s, and continues to work as a public TV journalist, contributing public affairs reporting for Kansas Public Television. She received a Kaiser Family Health Foundation grant to produce a documentary on health care in rural communities, and was a fellow of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Program in Journalism Excellence.
Bergen was a member of the Board of Directors for the Association for Education for Journalism and Mass Communication in 2002-2003, and was head of the organization’s Professional Freedom and Responsibility Committee and the Newspaper Division.

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