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The Mediatized Victim: School Shootings as Distant Suffering

School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age

ISBN: 978-1-78052-918-9, eISBN: 978-1-78052-919-6

ISSN: 2050-2060

Publication date: 23 November 2012

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the complex interplay between the media, school shootings and society from the perspective of mediatization of the victim. In mediatization of the victim, the media, in a crisis, plays a key role in connecting people, disseminating information, compiling a security-related picture and providing for potential new emergencies.

Design/approach – The chapter draws on Winfried Schulz's (2004) typology for the analysis of mediatization of the victim in the multidimensional manner. It examines how mediatization works in practice by applying Schulz's typology in the analysis of the two school shootings in Finland in Jokela in 2007 and in Kauhajoki in 2008. The empirical material consists of interviews with police, state and municipal officials and people from non-governmental organizations. Media materials (electronic and print) were collected from the major Finnish media houses and several state and community official web sites.

Findings – The chapter argues that the media shapes the construction of the victim in the process of mediatization and makes the role of victim and witness both central and ambiguous. The chapter concludes by drawing upon the work of French sociologist Luc Boltanski (1999) on morality, media and politics as it identifies the ways in which mediatization engages the affective potential of the spectator and evokes a specific disposition to act upon the suffering, thus, creating a moralizing effect on the spectator.

Originality/value – The chapter produces new theoretical and empirical knowledge on the complex interplay between the media, school shootings and society by discussing it from the perspective of the victim. Consequently, it contributes in deepening our understanding of the process of mediatization and the place of the victim in it in the case of violent crisis such as school shootings.

Keywords

Citation

Hakala, S. (2012), "The Mediatized Victim: School Shootings as Distant Suffering", Muschert, G.W. and Sumiala, J. (Ed.) School Shootings: Mediatized Violence in a Global Age (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 7), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 255-278. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-2060(2012)0000007016

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited