Unraveling the Complex Narratives


Media reports on knife crime as a specific kind of youth crime have highlighted how the issue has become a prevalent concern in public and political debate (Squires, 2009). As per media reports, there is an unprecedented rise in knife crime since 2008, particularly impacting inner city areas of London (Squires, 2009; Ruth, Thompson, & Sara, 2019). One aspect of the knife crimes is therefore that it is a crime that is presented as a major social problem that needs responses from the criminal justice system and for that reason becomes a political debate (Squires, 2009). In this research study, the research question focuses on criminology dissertation help due to the elements that are as follows: In this research study, the research question are as follows:

How does the media portray knife crime in the UK?

Does the media portrayal of knife crime accurately represent the state of crime in the society or is it disproportionate?

There is some suggestion in the literature as to the disproportionate nature of media reporting on knife crime (Blackman & Wilson, 2014). Preliminary research suggests that knife crime is being disproportionately reported by the media, which means that the actual state of crime is lesser than that reported by the media (Bright, 2015). Empirical research conducted by Blackman and Wilson (2014) has specifically reported that media reports on criminal crime presents an inaccurate picture of the state of crime in the society. The findings by Wood (2010) also support the contention that there is no significant increase in knife crime despite media reports that suggest that there is a significant increase in knife crime in the society, especially in the inner city areas. This preliminary literature research suggests that there may be some discrepancy between the media reporting on knife crime and the actual state of knife crime. Indeed, literature going back to the last 15 years has noted such discrepancies; for example, Pearson (2006) noted that the state of knife crime was not high, but responses were made by the government with tougher measures based on increased social perceptions on the state of knife crime in the society. This can be attributed to the increased debate on knife crime. At the same time, some of these studies are dated to more than 5 years ago, and it is possible that the state of knife crime has indeed increased and the media reports at this time are more accurately reflective on the state of crime. There is recent interest in knife crime and increased political discourse on knife crime (Ruth, Thompson, & Sara, 2019). Recent reports do indicate that there is an increase in knife crime; for instance, Humphreys, Degli Esposti, Gardner, and Shepherd (2019) reported that there was a 7 percent increase in knife crime since 2018. Similar findings were reported in another study on knife crime (Densley, Deuchar, & Harding, 2020). Therefore, while the earlier studies have argued that there is disproportionate reporting on knife crime in the media, the recent studies on state of knife crime suggesting an increase in knife crime make a reconsideration of media portrayal of knife crimes a relevant area of research. This research will explore the recent media portrayal on knife crime and add to the literature in this field by researching on more contemporary developments on this research question.


Research method

This research will be based on secondary data within a qualitative research method. This involves a desk based research and no primary data will be collected for this study. However, the desk based research will be conducted through a literature review method and a Critical Discourse Analysis method, which is used to critically analyse discourse. Critical Discourse Analysis has been defined as “a programme of social analysis that critically analyses discourse, that is to say language in use, as a means of addressing problems of social change” (Scollon, 2001, p. 140). The application of this method allows the researcher to analyse social practices through critical study of the texts; the researcher will analyse the text of recent media reports to understand the portrayal of knife crime as revealed by the by the discourse. This is based on the premise that representation can be based on practice; in this case, the representation of knife crime may be based on actual state of crime or it may not be based accurately on the state of crime (Leeuwen, 2015). Critical Discourse Analysis applied to a specific discourse can help the researcher conclude as to how a specific phenomenon is represented in the social practice. Secondary sources for the literature review will include books, articles in journals, and empirical research studies on media reporting on knife crime. The researcher will also use media reports related to knife crime in the last five years. Essentially, this will involve focussing on a few examples of media reported knife crimes and an analysis of the portrayal of knife crime in these reports.

Qualitative research method is chosen in this research study because it provides the researcher with flexibility to conduct in areas that are complex, and have multitiered information and data (Collis & Hussey, 2009). The topic of knife crime is one such area where the researcher will need to conduct the research within an open and flexible framework because there are multiple narratives and complexities that are involved in the topic of knife crime (Creswell, 2013). This study will involve exploring how media reports create a narrative around knife crime and the comparison between the media portrayal and the actual state of crime. Thus, there is a need to explore the issue from a multi-layered perspective and in a nuanced way, which will be allowed by qualitative research.

A qualitative researcher can adopt interpretivism in his philosophical approach which allows him flexibility to interpret subjective data (Creswell, 2013). This is another reason why qualitative desk based research is chosen where the researcher will use interpretative techniques to conduct a contextual analysis of the subjective data collected through literature review (Creswell, 2013). The analysis of the data will therefore be qualitative in nature allowing the interpreter to consider the contexts of the data (Creswell, 2013).

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Blackman, S., & Wilson, A. (2014). Psychotic (e)states: Where anti-social behaviour with recreational drug use to signify the social problem group. In S. Pickard (Ed.),

Anti-Social Behaviour in Britain: Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives . Springer.

Bright, C. (2015). Preventing criminal violence and gang involvement: A review of risk and protective factors. Early Intervention Foundation.

Collis, J., & Hussey, R. (2009). Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students. London: Palgrave Macmillon.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Los Angeles: Sage.

Densley, J., Deuchar, R., & Harding, S. (2020). An Introduction to Gangs and Serious Youth Violence in the United Kingdom. Youth Justice, 1473225420902848.

Humphreys, D. K., Degli Esposti, M., Gardner, F., & Shepherd, J. (2019). Violence in England and Wales: does media reporting match the data? Bmj, 367, l6040.

Leeuwen, T. V. (2015). Discourse as a Reconceptualisation of Social Practice. In R. Wodak, & M. Meyer, Methods of critical discourse studies (pp. 137-179). New York: Sage.

Pearson, G. (2006). Disturbing continuities: peaky blinders' to 'hoodies'. 65, pp. 6-7.

Ruth, P., Thompson, C., & Sara, P. (2019). We need a renewed focus on primary prevention to tackle criminal knife violence in the longer term. BMJ, 365 , l1769.

Scollon, R. (2001). Action and text: towards an integrated understanding of the place of text in social (inter)action, mediated discourse analysis and the problem of social action.

In N. Fairclough, Critical discourse analysis as a method in social scientific research (Vol. 5, pp. 141-182). New York: Sage.

Squires, P. (2009). The knife crime ‘epidemic’and British politics. British Politics, 4(1), 127-157.

Smith, R.S. (2007) Criminal justice: Ideas, policy, practice. Taylor & Francis.

Wood, R. (2010). UK: the reality behind the ‘knife crime’ debate. Race & Class , 52(2), 97-103.

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