Punishment, legitimacy and taste: the role and limits of mainstream and social media in constructing attitudes towards community sanctions

Happer, C. , McGuinness, P., McNeill, F. and Tiripelli, G. (2019) Punishment, legitimacy and taste: the role and limits of mainstream and social media in constructing attitudes towards community sanctions. Crime, Media, Culture, 15(2), pp. 301-321. (doi: 10.1177/1741659018773848)

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Although criminologists have studied public attitudes to community sanctions, and there has also been some attention to media representations of them, there has been no serious examination of the relationships between media and public understandings. This article presents an interdisciplinary analysis (drawing on sociology, media and communications and organisational studies) of the potential influence of media consumption practices on penal tastes among diverse participant groups. We aim to develop a clearer understanding of how these processes shape the public legitimacy of community sanctions. In particular, we report on original research employing innovative methodologies to explore the dynamic set of practices deployed by audiences in the process of making meaningful the media landscape on punishment and community sanctions. Our findings offer some confirmation of the primacy of the prison in the popular imagination; community sanctions’ media profile is delimited by their perceived banality, in turn leading to confusion surrounding their purpose and potential. However, this study suggests that the legitimacy problem for community sanctions may be far more complex than 'newsworthiness'. Community sanctions, we argue, may be subject to appraisal in line with penal 'tastes' in which the function of moral censure is of central significance. However, we also uncover some evidence about how traditional markers of taste are disrupted by processes of media convergence (of appropriation, circulation, response) in ways which can operate to limit deliberation even amongst more liberal audience groups, and conversely open it up amongst those who are more punitive.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: This article is based on research funded by British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant Ref. SG48403.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Happer, Dr Catherine and McNeill, Professor Fergus
Authors: Happer, C., McGuinness, P., McNeill, F., and Tiripelli, G.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Crime, Media, Culture
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1741-6604
Published Online:07 May 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Crime, Media, Culture 15(2): 301-321
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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