Media coverage versus law enforcement and the social construction of the serial killer in American society
Bones, Gary L.
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The following research takes a look at serial killers and how they are socially constructed by the mass media versus law enforcement. Serial killers commit the most heinous of crimes over and over, and I view them as sources of information for research on their motivations and socialization. The information I have read on serial killers comes from books and newspapers dealing specifically with them and will be mentioned throughout the analysis, for some sociological implications can be seen from them and used for this study. This information dealt with serial killers from a maudy psychological approach. I feel the need to approach the serial killer using a more sociological analysis, for a sociological viewpoint is necessary so that research on serial killers may incorporate the influence of the wider social environment. All the sciences should be combined to profile the serial killer from every direction, from the biological to the sociological. In turn, this should provide valuable information regarding the characteristics behind serial killers and other repeat offenders. For this analysis I begin by discussing news reports given to society about serial killers. Although society is a general term, I refer to the groups that receives information on a daily basis from institutions that portray reality. There is no argument that serial killers receive an abundant amount of attention when their crimes are being committed, but the period of 1983-1985 was a point in history where this attention was at an all time high. The importance of this period will be discussed later in the chapter dealing with methodology. For now I will suggest that news coverage of serial killers during this period shaped the perception of the American public. Behind this coverage were two institutions we are very familiar with: law enforcement and the mass media.