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Perceived Insecurity in the Public Space: Press Analysis Study

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  • Communication
  • Linguistics


"This study explores the perception of insecurity in Barcelona’s public space through the analysis of three newspapers. It analyzes the social representation that the press disseminates about the concept of "insecurity". The study is based on three assumptions: (i) the news media communication actively constructs a representation of social insecurity; (ii) this media representation "locates" the insecurity in different micro-environments of public space and (iii) this process significantly influences the social representation of public space (re) produced and expressed by the public. We have carried out an analysis of two national newspapers –El País and La Vanguardia- in their Barcelona edition and one local newspaper –Avui-. As theoretical approaches we use the Agenda-Setting model and framing theory, i.e. the study of the newsworthy frames.The analysis included a thematic categorization of contents in a sample of news published in the selected newspapers from October 1st, 2003 to June 14th, 2010. Sample selection was done with the keyword “insecurity” and the analysis was conducted with the support of ATLAS.ti software.Our findings show that there are significant differences in the coverage carried out by each newspaper, with tendency toward sensationalism in one of them. It was detected a predominant use of the newsworthy frames of attribution of responsibility, human interest and conflict to re-construct the information of insecurity. In addition, it is verified how the mass media present a clear correlation that associates social insecurity to immigration.The study provides guidelines for further analysis of the discourse on the arguments expressed by linking the perception of insecurity, fear of crime and control processes of social order in public space, thus how social behaviour is articulated in our cities.This contribution belongs to a wider research program entitled “Uses, perceptions and conflict in urban public spaces: Identity, interaction, insecurity” (reference PSI2010-21214-C02-02), supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. "

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