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Popular Descriptions of the Rape Victim in the Press: A quantitative content analysis comparing Swedish and Michigan articles
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Criminology.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 credits / 22,5 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Not all victims can relate to the concept of the ideal victim. Especially rape victims can have a hard time gaining status as a victim. Rape victims may have to deal with being questioned about the circumstances but that has taken a turn towards the right direction in the redefinition of the rape law. In past decades the focus shifted more towards the victim and instead of looking at the victim‟s behaviour as much, there is now a sharper focus on the acts of the offender.

We compare Sweden and Michigan, two places with similar legal structures, to examine whether there are different media portrayals of the ideal victim.

The theory of “the ideal victim” by Nils Christie refers to crime victims who easily achieve legitimate status as a victim in the eyes of the public. The different attributes of being an ideal victim are used to understand the description of a victim. Constructions of gender are used as a complement to the concept of the ideal victim.

The previous studies show that there is a clear relationship between media and crime victims regarding recognition and visibility. This paper examines characteristics of the rape victim, presenting the most commonly portrayed descriptions in newspaper articles.

A quantitative content analysis has been carried out to interpret themes in the material, which consisted of morning and evening newspapers from Sweden and Michigan from 2008 and 2009. The coding is a thematic analysis with nine themes and the results are illustrated in figures.

The findings show that Sweden and Michigan have similar popular descriptions emphasizing the ideal victim. Their similar restrictive and redefined rape laws seem to be related to the amount of reported rapes in both jurisdictions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 44 p.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-63381OAI: diva2:448600
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2011-10-18 Created: 2011-10-17 Last updated: 2011-10-18Bibliographically approved

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