Historicizing the media effects debate

Authored by: Theresa Cronin

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474

10.4324/9781315756202.ch7

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Abstract

‘Media effects’ are perhaps one of the most frequently discussed and hotly debated topics in media studies. From debates over the effects of playing violent video games on children, through concerns over young women accessing pro-anorexia websites, to questions about the possible damaging effects of online pornography, potential media effects are of enduring interest to media students and the general public alike. As we shall see, these are perennial debates that appear to resurface with the invention and proliferation of each new media form. This chapter will therefore place the question of media effects within the context of a long history of public concern for the moral welfare of children and young people. It will demonstrate a clear link between media effects and regulation in the UK. However, it will also argue that the very real epistemological problems that underpin media effects research means that these laws are not necessarily founded on a secure evidence base. Rather, the move toward greater regulation of media in the UK has instead been driven by high-profile media stories that have naturalized the relationship between violent media and violent crime.

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