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The meaning and definition of violence

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Drawing on two studies, one involving a sample of adults, and the other a sample of children, the paper seeks to understand the definition of screen violence given by adults and children. This is accomplished by empirical examination of responses to a range of material that included acts of violence. Using a variant of focus groups video editing groups the paper shows that definitions of violence are drawn from understandings of violence in real life, and the realism of the violence shown on the screen. Definitions of screen violence drawn from definitions of what makes something violent in real life are referred to as the Primary Definers of Violence, and the manner in which the violence is shown on the screen are referred to as the Secondary Definers of Violence. A third set of definers were seen to be in place in so far as the children in our sample were concerned. Referred to as the Tertiary Definers of Violence, they include material that is scary.

Keywords: moral judgement; primary definers; real; scary; secondary definers; tertiary definers; violence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds. 2: Hargrave Principal, Millwood Hargrave Ltd.

Publication date: November 5, 2007

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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