Mug Shots: A Content Analysis of Crime Representations

Cherie Wilheim-Jones

This study examines images of crime and criminals in Mug Shots, a popular reality-based television program. A content analysis is utilized to identify demographic characteristics of offenders and to describe the crimes of offenders features in the shows under review. The overriding purpose of the work is to garner information to determine if television images of crime and criminals reflect dominant ideologies and subsequent stereotypes that exist in our society. Findings indicate that violent crimes and, in many cases, minority offenders are overrepresented in Mug Shots and similar programs. This feeds a hegemonic ideology, which causes the public to focus on street crimes and disadvantaged offenders.

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Updated 05/20/2006