Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media, and Social Problems

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 2004 - Social Science - 194 pages
1 Review
"Whether you are drawn to this book because of in interest in media, social problems, or domestic violence, reading it will help you better understand the impact media stories have on our perceptions of social problems."That is how Nancy Berns introduces her book. It is a work that unabashedly examines not only domestic violence, but also the larger picture of how politics and processes shape our responses to social problems. "Framing the Victim also distinguishes serious research from media, which promote entertainment, empowerment, and drama. This book is a must read for anyone concerned about our understanding and response to social problems. Berns shows how victims of domestic violence are molded to accord with the perspectives of the dominant media and how, as a result, they are falsely blamed for a crime committed by another. She critiques with insight the stories that emerge when social problems are formed by guidelines that promote entertainment, victim empowerment, drama, inspiration, and a political agenda. Berns also provides suggestions for constructing a social problem that focuses less on the victim, and more on the abuser as well as the cultural and social context within which violence is learned and tolerated. This unique effort in communications studies indicates both the gains and the losses in understanding reality from the prism of television talk shows, women's magazines, and political magazines with a wide variety of agendas--other than scientific--and how this large panoply of media blitzes serve to frame the victim, in the sense of locating them and, more dangerously, typecasting them. Berns fully appreciates how this emphasis on victims may have contributed touseful outcomes for intervention and providing resources for victims; but there remain serious barriers to achieving a public awareness of the larger context of violence.

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R1: This book shows how victims of domestic violence are shaped in accordance with the dominant perspectives of media and how they are falsely blamed for being the cause of their abuses. One especially good aspect of this book is that the author gives accounts of real people throughout the chapters. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about domestic violence and where it comes from.
R2: In Framing the Victim, Berns discusses the media's influence in shaping individuals' perceptions of domestic violence, a crime Berns describes as a growing social problem. Berns notes that victim blaming often becomes a pertinent theme in media portrayals, which influences individuals in society to respond to domestic violence using such blame frames. Berns suggests that domestic violence can be reduced in several ways: through the efforts of media in producing stories that question existing cultural beliefs and attitudes toward domestic violence; through the efforts of journalists to uphold certain standards in reporting social problems; and by changing the way indviduals are socialized in terms of conflict resolution. This book would be most appealing to those interested in domestic violence and the negative repercussions of negative media portrayals of victims.
R3: In this book, Nancy Berns evaluates various social problems pertaining to domestic violence and how victims and offenders are viewed due to media and cultural norms. In portraying domestic violence, media are often degrading to women, presenting them as weak, necessarily casting them as the 'victim'. Overall, the book is well-written and I would recommend it to readers who wish to grasp a better understanding of how culture and media shape our minds about gender roles, victims and offenders.
Reviewed by: AMIRA SALLOUM


Zooming In and Out on Social Problems
The Landscape of Domestic Violence and the Publics Narrow Picture
I Get My Experience from the Media Using Media to Understand Social Problems
Womens Magazines The Victim Empowerment Frame
Social Problems As Inspiration Entertainment and Emotion Womens Magazines and Other Entertainment Media
Mens and Conservative Political Magazines The Antifeminist Frame
Liberal Political Magazines The Social Justice Frame
Framing the Victim
In Search of a New Social Problem about Violence

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