Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Sociology and Criminal Justice

Advisor

Jeff Gruenewald

Committee Member

Mindy Bradley

Second Committee Member

Casey Harris

Abstract

The purpose of the current study is to explore ways in which American print news media frame responsibility for adolescent and teen bullying. More specifically, how media portray responsibility for the underlying causes and consequences of bullying, as well as for responding to bullying, are examined. Drawing from media studies and the construction of social problems literature, the study is guided by two broad research questions, 1) How do American news media frame responsibility for bullying? and 2) What news sources, or "claims-makers," are selected as authorities on bullying in news media articles? Articles published between 2009 and 2013 are collected through the LexisNexis news index based on several search words relevant to bullying. An ethnographic content analysis (ECA) of these articles is then conducted to better understand how news media package responsibility for bullying through the use of frames, emerging themes, and the inclusion of selected claims-makers. This study finds that schools are framed as primarily responsible for bullying, while families and individuals involved in bullying are framed as less responsible. Findings also suggest that news media coverage of bullying is more likely to center on responsibility in regards to needed responses to bullying, such as through raising public awareness, as opposed to addressing the underlying causes and consequences. Importantly, articles that did discuss the causes of bullying tended to place blame on advances in technology and victims' sexual orientations and gender identities. The implications of key findings for policy and future research are discussed.

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