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Media Violence and Aggression

Media Violence and Aggression
Science and Ideology

November 2007 | 280 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Media Violence and Aggression counters the claim that media violence leads to widespread social aggression. It is different from all other works in this area in that it dispels this myth through a multiple-method analysis. Media Violence and Aggression argues that there are, indeed, media effects that derive from media violence, pornography, and other kinds of visual, cyberspace, and print based messages. But for psychologically well people, these effects are manageable and fall within what society and the culture can abide. For psychologically unwell people, however, the authors argue that media violence can create behavioural changes that are not within manageable limits. And it is these people about whom society should concern itself.
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."

"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."


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

"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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