Constructing juvenile delinquency: an analysis of news media coverage and government response to youth crime in Malaysia

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Copyright: Ali, Kamsiah
This thesis examines the topic of the social construction of juvenile crime in Malaysia. The research project seeks to establish the extent to which youth crime is contextualised and socially constructed as part of perceived social problems in Malaysia by various claims makers in society, namely government agencies, the media and the public. The thesis will analyse in particular the construction of claims made in the area of youth crime and the evolution of perceptions of it as becoming a serious and problematic societal issue. Claims made in the newspapers and government documents will form the basis for the examination of the issues. The research endeavour is situated within the existing research literature on youth crime and justice and media coverage of crime. A sample of 695 news articles from two Malaysian daily newspapers (The Berita Harian and The News Straits Times) is examined using qualitative data analysis techniques, from a perspective that draws on social constructionism and framing theory. The data from newspapers in this study is analysed using frame analysis. This type of analysis, which is concerned with particular forms of presentations or modes of discourse, is of particular relevance to this thesis, where it is argued that frames strongly influence perceptions of juvenile crime issues and events in Malaysia today. This research confirms existing research literature in several aspects, whilst also offering new insights about the social construction of youth crime in the Malaysian print media. From an analysis of relevant print media items, the findings from this study show that the frames proposed by Sasson (1995) are consistently present in the manner in which youth crime has been constructed by newspapers in Malaysia. Specifically the faulty system frame, the blocked opportunity frame, the social defect/breakdown frame, the media violence frame and the inter-group conflict frame (called the racist frame by Sasson) were found to be consistent with Malaysian newspaper accounts of youth crime. An additional sixth frame, the individual defect frame, emerged in the analysis and was used widely to suggest that youth crime may be framed in accordance with individual behaviour and choices.
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Ali, Kamsiah
Bolitho, Jane
McGovern, Alyce
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PhD Doctorate
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