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The People’s Home? Crime, class, gender and ethnicity in the 1930s Swedish dailies
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of culture and media studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1776-3712
2017 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This presentation discusses the relationship between crime, ethnicity, social class and gender in Swedish dailies in the late 1930s. The 1930s can be seen as the beginning of the formation of the People’s Home. It is consequently interesting to study the crime news, which groups were perceived as deviant and what figural solutions were offered. Different groups can be excluded for different reasons and the degree of exclusion may differ. However, all the Others have one thing in common - Us. In Hegelian terms we could speak of the dialectic of the lord and the bondsman (Herr vs Knecht). Bird-Pollen (2013) says that the lord is ”stuck in his instrumental relation to the world in which he sees himself as the sole source of normativity // (and) recognises no one as his equal”.  In other words, We, the First, decide that the Second is not like Us, doesn’t behave like Us and We do not like him. In the process the Second turns into the Other. It is therefore interesting to examine the crime news’ construction of deviance in the light of the idea of People’s Home, who is included or excluded, who can be reformed and who is beyond honour and uprightness.  Crime news has a long history. Leth (1994) traces it to the 16-17th century newsletters and Chermak (1994) to the 18th century courtreporting. Carrabine (2008) speaks of ancient oral storytelling and early ’gallows journalism’. There is a complex relationship between news and social order. The media have an important role in mediating cultural norms and values. Pollack (2001) sees crime news as an arena for cultural conflict and says that both the law and the news are part of a hegemonic process. Ericson et al (1991) and Doyle (2006) think that as communicative processes news, myths and law work in similar ways. They belong to normalising, disciplining and naturalising discourses that are in an intertextual relationship with each other and with other normalising institutions and discourses (Ericson et al 1991).⁠ These communicative processes provide social stories, showing society’s shared values and beliefs. They offer recognition, a sense of security and credible answers and explanations for various phenomena and events.  The data consists of news items with Swedish and non-Swedish, male and female, lower and upper-class villains, as well as unruly communists and national socialists with alleged links to foreign powers. Crime news can thus reveal subtle imagined hierarchies. Although ethnicity had a stronger stigmatizing effect than social class, it didn’t apply equally to all ethnic groups. The poor whites were portrayed differently depending on their nationality. Finns and Travelers in particular were linked to knives, alcohol and fighting. Finns also appeared in the crime news as unruly Communists. Other ethnic minorities and foreigners were fairly invisible in this material. Reporting about female villains was a sensitive and difficult matter. Stories of mothers killing their children were potentially newsworthy but, in reality, got much less attention than male perpetrators.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keywords [en]
crimes news, gender, class, ethnicity, Sweden, dailies
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-158540OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-158540DiVA, id: diva2:1313008
Conference
IAMHIST: Media and history: Crime, violence and justice
Available from: 2019-05-02 Created: 2019-05-02 Last updated: 2019-06-18

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf