الرئيسية Teaching Sociology Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media, and Social Problemsby Nancy Berns
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Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media, and Social Problems by Nancy Berns Review by: Kristi Hoffman Teaching Sociology, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Oct., 2005), pp. 436-437 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4127555 . Accessed: 17/06/2014 05:00 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact email@example.com. . American Sociological Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Teaching Sociology. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:00:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 436 TEACHINGSOCIOLOGY Framingthe Victim:DomesticViolence,Media, how the batteredwomen's,victims'rights,and and Social Problems.NancyBerns.Hawthorne, self-helpmovementscontributedto the public's NY: Aldine.2004. 194pages.$23.95. myopicfocuson the victim.The bookconcludes with thoughtfulideas to inducea culturalshift This interestingand well-organizedbook pro- and specificsocialchangesto bringabouta revides a solid sociologicalstudy on the media ductionin domesticviolence. The chaptersare structuredto maximizethe portrayalsof domesticviolence in the United States.The analysiscenterson the media'srole readers' ability to retain importantpoints by in shapingthe public's perception,using data using pertinentsubheadingsand providingbrief from an extensivecontentanalysisof magazine summaries.In addition,most chaptersconclude articlesandadvicebooksfor freelancewritersas withquestionsthatareaddressedin the following well as interviewswith editors.Typicalmedia s; ection.This techniqueis effectivein providing stories direct our gaze towards the victim-- an intellectualbridgebetweenchapters,bringing divertingus away from the abuserand distract- a sense of continuityto the book. One of the ing us from the culturaland structuralfactors majorstrengthsis the use of a myriadof data that facilitateand toleratethis behavior.The fromnationalpublicopinionsurveys,interviews, desirefor higherprofitsleadsto the selectionof and innovativecontentanalyses. The excerpts sensational,dramatic,and inspirationalstories, from the author'squalitativeresearchfindings furthernarrowingthe media'scoverageof do- basedon the magazinearticlesandeditors'commestic violence. Berns describesin detail the ments providea rich flavor to the discussion. variousframesusedby the media,withthe most Illustrativemetaphorsalongwith these excerpts commonone depictingdomesticviolenceas an make the book appealingto read and provide individualproblemthatmustbe solvedthrough substantialand convincing evidence for the victim empowerment.The shift in journalism framesof domesticviolence. These aspectsof is docu- the book make it ideally suitedfor studentsas towardsusing news as entertainment with the well as scholars.While the book seems a bit mentedandlinkedto thispreoccupation victim.Followinga discussionof this individual specializedfor an introductory sociologyclass, it text frame of responsibility,Berns identifies two is especiallywell designedas a supplemental other less commonbut importantperspectives: for a social problemscourse and classes that antifeministand socialjustice frames.The book focus on violence, the media, or gender. The concludes with an informativesummaryand chaptersare writtenin such a way thatportions for preventing of the book, particularlywith the additionof providesseveralrecommendations domesticviolence and broadeningthe public's some generalbackgroundprovidedby the inview so they see more of the landscapeof this structor,could be used in additionalcourses. socialproblem. Chapters4, 5, or 6 could be used in research The book beginswith a well-definedresearch methodscoursesas examplesof how to effecresearchfindings. problem,and the first chapterprovidesa social tivelypresentqualitative The frequentreiteration of themainarguments contextfor the analysisand an overviewof the majorideasto be examined.Chapter2 describes is generallyhelpfulbutmaybecomerepetitiveif the public's view of domestic violence-- muchof the bookis readat one time. The chapbuttressedby opinionsurveydata-and Chapter ter on the antifeministand socialjusticeframes 3 explains how the media becomes a "tour seemsdense,but thatmaybe due to the content guide," selectingsnapshotsand providingcom- ratherthanthe style, sincethe otherchaptersare mentaryon domesticviolence.Chapters4 and5 easierto digest. The most significantdrawback presentfindingsfrom interviewswith magazine to usingthe bookin the classroomis the lackof editorsas well as a contentanalysisof advice explicit referencesto, or situatingthe study books for writers and articles from women's within, traditionalsociological theories. The magazines including Essence, Glamour, analysisis morethanfairto the media,sinceit is McCall's, Good Housekeeping,Ladies' Home theirunbridleddesirefor profitsthat is at least Journal,Redbook,andSeventeen.As an interest- partiallyresponsiblefor the public's lack of vision"and "widelens"understanding contrastand revealingthe antifeministand "peripheral socialjusticeframes,Chapters6 and 7 describe ing of domesticviolence.However,theseissues the depictionof domesticviolencein a diverse do not substantially detractfrom this important group of magazines-TheNew Republic,Pent- studyon the how the mediaencouragesa narrow house, Playboy,The Nation, and The Progres- view of domesticviolencefocusingon the vicsive. Chapter8 providesa brief descriptionof tim. Uponreadingthisbook, studentsandschol- This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:00:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 437 BOOKREVIEWS ars will appreciate the power of the media to shape the public's view of domestic violence. The author presents a powerful and convincing case study on domestic violence, demonstrating the importantrole the media plays in our perception of social problems and ultimately in the social constructionof reality. KristiHoffman RoanokeCollege Flesh and Blood: AdolescentGenderDiversity and Violence. James W. Messerschmidt. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2004. 176 pages. $65.00 hardcover;$19.95 paperback. Gender, as a consistent factor in violence and criminality, cannot be ignored. Yet much of criminological theory and research lacks an indepth inquiry into how gender relates to the self and violence. James W. Messerschmidt argues that sociological criminology has largely ignored the body in relation to the self and crime. In Flesh and Blood: Adolescent Gender Diversity and Violence Messerschmidt uses structured action theory to overcome the historical problems associated with the mind-body and sexgender binaries. He argues that individuals construct multiple gender projects as strategies for negotiating different settings. So rather than focusing on the "mind-body, sex-gender, and gender difference binaries," Messerschmidtcalls for a "concentrationon 1) embodimentas a lived aspect of gender, 2) both gender differences and gender similarities in the commission of crime, and 3) how embodied social action is embedded in specific structuralgender relations in particular settings" (emphasis original, p. 32). Flesh and Blood is organized into four parts. Part 1 gives an interesting and useful history of criminology as a discipline, emphasizingparticular theorists' attempts (and lack thereof) at explaining gender and the body. Part 2 presents the theoretical framework for Messerschmidt's analysis. Structuredaction theory emphasizes the constructionof gender as a situated social, interactional, and embodied accomplishment. Gender is not related to just the body but rather grows out of embodied social practices in specific social structural settings. Messerschmidt focuses on three settings in his analysis: home, school, and street. How people do their "genderproject" (p. 40) is influenced by specific social structural constraints. Part 3 of the book presents four case studies of white working-class youth. Messerschmidt uses a life-history method to explore boys' and girls' use of violence. These two chapters examine why boys and girls from the same social area engage in violence for different reasons and in different settings. With an emphasis on gender construction and gender projects, Messerschmidt uses these four case studies to illustrate how violence and nonviolence are related to gender. The case studies provide interesting stories to engage students in the discussion. Chapter 5 compares Lenny, the "wimp," and Perry, the "bully," while Chapter 6 compares Tina, the "badass," and Kelly, the "ladybug." The four young people have different stories involving their bodies and gender identity and how they use violence strategically to "do gender." Messerschmidtties together the youths' experiences at home, school, and in the street to illustratehow gender meanings are fluid, contextual, and central to identity. Part 4 applies structured action theory to the four case studies presented in Part 3. This section of the book helps the reader make connections between the lived histories and the abstracttheory. Again, Messerschmidt emphasizes the three sites-home, school, and street-and discusses how they relate to gender and violence. The final chapteremphasizes how girls' violence challenges what we think we know about gender differences. Flesh and Blood is dense with historical and theoretical insights on criminology and gender. It is more suitable for advancedundergraduatesand graduateclasses than introductoryclasses. Messerschmidt offers a thought-provokinganalysis of gender, but this book will be more useful for students who have had some backgroundin gender theory. For students who are ready to think about gender and crime at a more complex level, this book offers rich insights. Flesh and Blood is well written and weaves together an impressive array of literature on criminology and gender studies. Among the classes that might use the book are youth and crime, criminology, gender studies, theory, and violence. Flesh and Blood ties in nicely with the recent interest in "wimps and bullies" in our school system. It also gives a good overview of the "cultureof cruelty" (p. 108) within schools and its highly gendered cliques. Messerschmidtprovides a rich account of what young people go through in school and how their experiences relate to their body images and their desire to do gender, both of which are also influenced by their families. These topics provide easy access for students to discuss the theoretical issues raised by the book. The case studies and timely topics will help professors using the book in This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Tue, 17 Jun 2014 05:00:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions