Random Violence: How We Talk about New Crimes and New Victims / Edition 1

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Overview

Random Violence is a deft and thought-provoking exploration of the ways we talk about--and why we worry about--new crimes and new forms of victimization. Focusing on so-called random crimes such as freeway shootings, gang violence, hate crimes, stalking, and wilding, Joel Best shows how new crime problems emerge and how some quickly fade from public attention while others spread and become enduring subjects of concern. Bests original and incisive argument illuminates the fact that while these crimes are in actuality neither new, nor epidemic, nor random, the language used to describe them nonetheless shapes both private fears and public policies. Best scrutinizes the melodramatic quality of the American publics attitudes toward crime, exposing the cultural context for the popularity of random violence as a catch-all phrase to describe contemporary crime, and the fallacious belief that violence is steadily rising. He points out that the age, race, and sex of homicide victims reveal that violence is highly patterned. Best also details the contemporary ideology of victimization, as well as the social arrangements that create and support a victim industry that can label large numbers of victims. He demonstrates why it has become commonplace to declare war on social problems, including drugs, crime, poverty, and cancer, and outlines the complementary influence of media, activists, officials, and experts in institutionalizing crime problems. Intrinsic to all these concerns is the way in which policy choices and outcomes are affected by the language used to describe social problems.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520215726
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/2/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 237
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


Joel Best is Professor of Sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is the author of Threatened Children: Rhetoric and Concern about Child-Victims (1990).
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Ch. 1 Random Violence 1
Ch. 2 From Incidents to Instances: The Media Discover Wilding and Freeway Violence 28
Ch. 3 Beyond Instances: Institutionalizing Stalking and Hate Crimes 48
Ch. 4 Gangs, Conspiracies, and Other Cultural Resources 72
Ch. 5 The New Victims 93
Ch. 6 The Victim Industry 119
Ch. 7 Declaring War on Social Problems 142
Ch. 8 Connections among Claims: The Context for New Social Problems 162
App New Ways to Study Media Coverage of Social Problems 189
Notes 197
References 211
Index 237
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