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Serial Killer Sociology

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The existence of serial killers – a single individual or a pair of accomplices who have committed three or more killings in between emotional cooling-off periods (Miller, 2014) – can be traced back to the beginning of human history. Nevertheless, many scholars of today have argued that social and cultural circumstances have led to a specific modern conceptualization and representation of serial killers in the Western world. One of the primary influencers shaping the notion of the serial killer is the mass media. The modern stereotyped depiction of serial killers is that they range between the ages of 20 to 40 and are typically white, single, heterosexual males (Haggerty, 2009). These common depictions of serial killers are presented …show more content…
These subjective meanings however can become so deeply embedded into a society’s culture that members of society begin to internalize these notions as apparent or natural (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). As identified by Berger and Luckmann (1966) the social construction of reality follows a four-step process: externalization, objectivation, institutionalization, and internalization. To begin, externalization involves projecting a person’s or group’s subjective meanings towards the outside social environment; following this step is obectivation, which is when these externalized meanings become accepted and collectively used by others within this shared social world (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). Institutionalization occurs when these normalized meanings become formalized within the institutions of that society (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). Finally, internalization is when an individual integrates these objective, institutionalized meanings into their subjective consciousness as a result of socialization (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). A Social Constructionist approach is relevant to explaining the portrayal of serial killers within the media because it takes into consideration how the …show more content…
Female victims who fit these physical and demographic variables receive disproportionately more coverage because they are a group within society that are rarely targeted – in comparison to other social groups – in other types of murder cases (Gekoski et al., 2012; Haggerty, 2009). Additionally, Gekoski et al. (2012) argues that individuals unconsciously tended to rate the photo of an attractive female victim as of higher importance or worthiness than one of an unattractive female. Picturesque victims further accentuate the story of an unjust crime, which in turn increases the probability of newspapers putting the story on the front cover to not only raise viewership but profitability too. Likewise, children in all other forms of murder are infrequent victims and automatically earn victim legitimacy – meaning violence against them is not questioned or refuted – which jointly cause a spike in news coverage when they are victims of serial killing (Gekoski et al., 2012). Peelo et al. (2004) highlights that of all the serial killing cases broadcasted within the media, children ten and under represented 65% to 70% of the victim population. Reasoning behind this over-representation

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