This book contributes to the current academic discussion on school shootings by analysing this contemporary phenomenon in a broader context of media saturation in contemporary…
This book contributes to the current academic discussion on school shootings by analysing this contemporary phenomenon in a broader context of media saturation in contemporary social and cultural life. We argue that in order to understand school shootings as a cultural and sociological phenomenon, we need to analyse this type of public violence from a variety of academic perspectives. By drawing on a range of empirical analyses of different school shooting incidents in the United States, Germany, Finland, and Canada, the authors in this volume demonstrate the diverse ways in which the media and school shootings are connected in contemporary society. Numerous frameworks are applied in these original analyses, including media violence, journalism, visual culture, and social networking. Our shared goal is to understand the complex interplay between media, society and school shootings, and certainly how this interaction is carried out in a range of cultural and societal contexts and settings.
In November 2009, scholars from different parts of the world converged on Helsinki for the Conference on Social Violence in the Network Society. Among those who participated were scholars in a variety of fields who have examined the media/communications dynamic of school shootings. This volume is the outgrowth of those discussions begun in that venue.1 Three years later, while the contributors to this volume were drafting their chapters, there was a 3 week period in late-March/early-April 2012 in which three events relevant to the topic of this volume occurred in three divergent settings. Case 1: in Toulouse, France a male serial killer murders three children at the Jewish Ozar Hatorah secondary school. The police besiege the killer and kill him after a violent standoff. The case makes news all over Europe, and beyond. Case 2: the Finnish news media tell the story of a young man who attacks a high school in the small town of Orivesi, Western Finland. Nobody is killed in the shooting, but the local community is shocked. The police catch the perpetrator, who claims his motive was to violate his ex-girlfriend, a student at the high school. Case 3: International news breaks about another school shooting at Oikos University in Oakland, California. The perpetrator, a former student of the school, kills seven people and injures several. The police later catch him, and when interviewed he claims he was bullied at school. Are these cases part of a unified phenomenon, or is their coincidence random?
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…
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.