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Media Violence and Aggression
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Media Violence and Aggression
Science and Ideology



© 2008 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

"Media Violence and Aggression is a thoughtful and sophisticated work that dismantles the core assumptions of the media violence hypothesis piece by piece...This book makes several core contributions to the discussion on media violence effects above those seen in other critical works."
—Christopher J. Ferguson, PsycCRITIQUES

The authors of Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology, Tom Grimes, James A. Anderson, and Lori Bergen, are determined to leave no stone unturned, no perspectives unexplored, no names left unnamed of those in the field with whom, on both empirical and theoretical grounds, they strenuously disagree. It is an engaging book that needed to be and is up close and personal. In so doing, they have produced what may be the most comprehensive critique and rebuttal to date of the omnipresent media-violence and aggression argument."
 
—JOURNAL OF MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY


Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology provides a multimethod critique of the media violence/social aggression myth. It provides policy makers and students with information to understand why the violence/media aggression hypothesis does not explain or predict how most people react to what they see and hear in the media. Authors Tom Grimes, James A. Anderson, and Lori Bergen take the reader through a history of media effects research, pointing out where that research has made claims that go beyond empirical evidence.

Key Features

  • Dispels the media violence/social aggression myth: Through a multiple method analysis of the myth, the authors provide empirical evidence for their decoupling of media violence from social aggression.
  • Illustrates how much of the media violence/social aggression equation derives from ideology: Taking a different perspective from most other books on media violence, this text shows how very easy—how almost imperceptible—it is to adopt an ideological perspective.
  • Shows how the media violence/social aggression hypothesis conflicts with a range of established social science theory: The book examines why theories generated by media violence/social aggression advocates aren't compatible with other social science theories that explain human behavior (and why they must be compatible in order to achieve validity).
  • Considers media effects for the general population and psychologically unwell people: The book explains that the clinical population's reactions to media violence are often improperly presumed to be the reaction of the general, psychologically well population.
  • Argues that certain science practitioners view children as more psychologically vulnerable to media violence than they actually are: Children are surely more vulnerable to many social and environmental influences than adults, but the degree of media vulnerability is often overstated.
  • Speaks directly to policy makers: This book helps policy makers sort through both the nature of the evidence they are presented with and the risks that such evidence poses to the public.

Intended Audience

This is an ideal text for graduate courses such as Mass Communication Theory, Media and Society, Media Effects, and Research Methods in Media in the departments of communication, media studies, journalism, sociology, cultural studies, and political science. It is also vital reading for scholars, researcher, and policy makers interested in media effects.

 
1. Setting the Stage
 
2. A Short History of the Concept of Effects
 
3. The Epistemology of Media Effects
 
4 The Social Scientific “Theory” That Never Quite Fit
 
5. Is it Just Science?
 
6. The World According to Causationists
 
7. The Biggest Cultural Variable of All: The Child
 
8. The Role of Psychopathology in the Media
 
9. The Attempt to Make an Idology a Science
 
10. To Legislate or Not to Legislate Against Media Violence

"The authors take strong issue with the notion of convergence as it concerns media violence research and painstakingly examine the major pitfalls in extrapolating results from experimental settings to real world behavior...they also lay out a strong case for why any truly meaningful social policy cannot be derived from the extant literature on media and violence."
JOURNAL OF MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY

"The authors of Media Violence and Aggression: Science and Ideology, Tom Grimes, James A. Anderson, and Lori Bergen, are determined to leave no stone unturned, no perspectives unexplored, no names left unnamed of those in the field with whom, on both empirical and theoretical grounds, they strenuously disagree. It is an engaging book that needed to be and is up close and personal. In so doing, they have produced what may be the most comprehensive critique and rebuttal to date of the omnipresent media-violence and aggression argument."

—JOURNAL OF MEDIA PSYCHOLOGY

Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, California State University, Los Angeles

"Media Violence and Aggression is a thoughtful and sophisticated work that dismantles the core assumptions of the media violence hypothesis piece by piece...This book makes several core contributions to the discussion on media violence effects above those seen in other critical works."

Christopher J. Ferguson
PsycCRITIQUES

"This notable book analyzes the epistemology of the theories, the methodology of the research findings, and the construction of concepts of childhood vulnerability. The authors also examine in detail the ontological problem of causation, tear apart empirical research into the pathology of violence, and dissect the effort to force science to fit ideology. Indeed, it should be read and agonized over by all scholars in the children and violence arena."

Susan Tyler Eastman
Communication Booknotes

This book offers a strong critique of the theoretical and methodological biases and limitations of media violence effects research. Empirical research and theoretical models are scrutinized and the authors do a very good job at exposing flaws in these research paradigms that effectively undermine their influential status on media research and policy.
Unfortunately, the authors operate within a rather narrow social scientific view on empirical research and causality, which unfortunately serves to maintain a positivistic bias where measurable audience effects, or the lack thereof, are seemingly all that matters as to the role of media violence. Furthermore, this narrow social scientific perspective of the book also means that other academic perspectives are dealt with in a haphazard manner, when mentioned at all. Telling in this regard is the misspelling of names (“Raymond William”) or odd characteristics (“Michel Foucault, the French existentialist”) given leading scholars that fall outside of the paradigm that the authors are most comfortable operating within.
The book’s narrow scope and polemical stance limits its usefulness as a textbook, but, despite its limitations, this is a book I will definitely list as a recommended further reading for my graduate course on media violence.

Dr Kjetil Rødje
Media, Cognition & Communication Dept, University of Copenhagen
May 16, 2013

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