News media constructions of male perpetrated intimate partner homicide
The news media are powerful purveyors of culture in North America. Crime news reporting particularly is an influential means by which the news media define the boundaries of deviant and non-deviant behaviour. For the purposes of the present research, I examined the ways that the print news media constructed cases of male-perpetrated Intimate Partner Homicide (IPH) in Alberta. Using a social constructionist theoretical orientation grounded in an Ethnographic Content Analysis methodology, I examined 381 newspaper articles that discussed four separate incidents of male-perpetrated IPH. Approaching these data from the perspective of media reciprocity and a social constructionism epistemology, I considered the various ways that the print media presented these cases for their audience, but also the various ways that the audience’s expectations and the general zeitgeist of the culture may have affected this presentation. Much of the dominant discourse in the cases I studied was consistent with previous research examining IPH presentations in the news media, namely that the media present victims and perpetrators in stereotyped ways according to their gender and ethnicity. However, I also examined some less prominent themes, including those that were pro-feminist, ambivalent, fictionalized, and constructed for the purpose of audience titillation and voyeurism. Additionally, owing to the qualitative nature of the methodology, I was able to examine discussions that subverted the stereotypical representation of victims and perpetrators in the news media and examine how these presentations could affect audience understanding of the phenomenon of IPH. Overall, the present project led to a discussion of how the media construct various facets of psychology and feminism and how these facets are in turn constructed by society in a reciprocal process whereby the media influence culture and culture correspondingly affects the media.
print news media, social constructionism, qualitative research, mental illness, Intimate partner homicide, Intimate partner violence, newspapers, ethnographic content analysis
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)