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CO4515 Trends in Cybercrime: Social Construction of Crime

The social construction of crime

Explore social and political processes that contribute to mainstream, yet often biased, constructions of crime and criminality. Focus on the role played by the media and explore some of the criminological debates and analytical perspectives developed to make sense of mediated mythologies of crime. We then move on to explore more recent debates about the use of social media to counter mainstream media representations and its potential to function as a site for informal justice.


There has been an everlasting relationship between media, crime and politics. Critics have always argued that the powerful suppresses the weak and in the same way powerful politicians and media personnel suppress the victims of crime. The politicians and modern day media designs polices and portray crime in such a way as to trigger their own self interest rather than taking an initiative to address the interest and needs of the victims. There has been various evidence which suggests that victims no longer have their trust in traditional media to gain access to justice as they know that media only seeks to commercialize their problems to make profit. These victims are now choosing other platforms to seek justice such as social media which has gain huge popularity during the latter part of the previous decade

In Fileborn, B. (2016). ‘Justice 2.0: Street harassment victims’ use of social media and online a

ctivism as sites of informal justice’. British Journal of Criminology, the author provides a clear argument that victims of street harassment are now using social media as well as online activism in order to seek informal justice. According to Trottier and Fuchs (2014) the traditional and formal system of criminal justice has been subjected to long and problematic history with respect to sexual violence. However there have also been several studies conducted which provide the conclusion that media has a significant role to pay towards solving providing criminal justice and historically it has acted as the primary public source of providing information. The primary reason for this was that people do not interact as much as they use to do in the past and therefore significantly rely on media to be informed about their surroundings. This feature of the society has given the media immense power as the public primarily believe whatever they have been showed by the media. There is little if any effort made by a common man to find out whether what the media is depicting is true. This nature of the society as made media companies owned by private firms and politicians to portray to the society about a situation in a way which financially and politically beneficial to them. The characteristic of media however has been highlight in the last few years and which the advent and popularity of social media the reliability of victims on traditional media to gain justice is declining. In Andrews, Brewster and Day (2016) the author argues that social media provides a far better than traditional media to share their problems as individual control in social media is much more and there is very less scope of commercialization and manipulation. The issues related to sexual crime is dealt vey sympathetically in social media unlike that of traditional media where the facts provided by the victims are manipulated and altered according to the interest of the media firms as well as politicians. It has been argued by Surette (2014) that even social media commercializes criminal stories through various places and blogs. However the extent to which manipulation of facts in done in traditional media to secure personal interest is much more than that of social media even.

In Box (1983) ‘Crime, power and ideological mystification’. In Power, Crime and Mystification. Routledge the author discusses about crime, power and ideology mystification. It has been provided by the book that we are always made Rape, Robbery, Murder, wounding, theft and vandalism are the criminal activities which the society is primarily bothered about. This is because the politicians and the media provide significant emphasis on these types of crime. According to Swanson and Frederick, (2015) physical crime is the most significant threat which is posed to the society by criminals. However the argument is not applicable on the modern day society. This is because the society has become capitalistic and the primary reason from crime in the society is economic status. As provided by Paternoster (2016) criminal behavior is initiated when the individuals are not able to achieve a strong economic position in the society which is essential for the purpose of gaining respect and proper treatment. Thus the primary stimulator of crime in the society is the need of money. Corporate crimes are those white collar crimes which are targeted to centralize the major wealth of the economy in certain hand (Fuchs, C., 2017). These kinds of criminal activities are rarely highlighted by the media or the politicians as they involve the most powerful individuals of the society. Corporate crimes are as much a threat to the society as any other physical crime if not more. They are the primary catalyst of stimulating criminal behavior. Lower class and middle class group has to indulge in of criminal activities in the pursuit of an economic status as the wealth is concentrated in the upper class of the society. In addition power is used to mystify the ideologies of crime and hide the effects of corporate criminal activities from the society.

The media and politicians use their position and influence towards making the society focus on only physical criminal activity. Due to such efforts of the powerful group, the society perceive the criminal activities as only those which involve acts like theft, murder, assault or rape. Individuals committing such activities are imposed with fines as well is physical punishment like imprisonment. However only in rarest of corporate crimes does an individual is provided with physical punishment and often escapes by paying fines which are much less than what they have gained through the fraud. The directors of corporate organizations are in a position to defraud the public as they have supreme control over their funds. Such a situation provides them with the opportunity to defraud the public by misdirecting their funds for personal interest under the protection of corporate veil. Still the society does not perceive such activities as a major threat and these while collar criminal roan free in the society with pride. In addition it has also been provided by Chaney and Robertson (2014) that those who do not have power are made victim of the powerful through support the media and police and the society also perceive them as criminals as they have little action to defend their position. 

Thus it can be concluded from the above discussion that the powerful manipulates the way in which crime is perceived by the society by mystifying ideologies. These powerful groups generally consist of high class businessmen, politicians and the media. It was always believed that media was the best support which a common individual may get in case he or she is the victim of any criminal activity. However capitalism and commercialization has converted media into a commercial organization with the only motive of making profit.


Andrews, S., Brewster, B. and Day, T., 2016, July. Organised crime and social media: detecting and corroborating weak signals of human trafficking online. In International Conference on Conceptual Structures (pp. 137-150). Springer International Publishing.

Box, S. (1983). ‘Crime, power and ideological mystification’. In Power, Crime and Mystification. Routledge. 

Chaney, C. and Robertson, R.V., 2014. " Can We All Get Along?" Blacks' Historical and Contemporary (In) Justice With Law Enforcement. Western Journal of Black Studies, 38(2), p.108.

Cullen, F.T., Cavender, G., Maakestad, W.J. and Benson, M.L., 2014. Corporate crime under attack: The fight to criminalize business violence. Routledge.

Fileborn, B. (2016). ‘Justice 2.0: Street harassment victims’ use of social media and online activism as sites of informal justice’. British Journal of Criminology

Fuchs, C., 2017. Social media: A critical introduction. Sage.

Paternoster, R., 2016. Deterring Corporate Crime. Criminology & Public Policy, 15(2), pp.383-386.

Surette, R., 2014. Media, crime, and criminal justice. Nelson Education.

Swanson, D.L. and Frederick, W.C., 2015. Are business schools silent partners in corporate crime?. Business, Capitalism and Corporate Citizenship: A Collection of Seminal Essays, p.74.

Trottier, D. and Fuchs, C. eds., 2014. Social media, politics and the state: Protests, revolutions, riots, crime and policing in the age of facebook, twitter and youtube (Vol. 16). Routledge. 

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