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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32075

Title: Making Crime TV: Producing Fictional Representations of Crime for Canadian Television
Authors: Lam, Anita Yuen-Fai
Advisor: Valverde, Mariana
Department: Criminology
Keywords: representations of crime
cultural criminology
actor network theory
television production studies
Issue Date: 19-Jan-2012
Abstract: Criminologists and sociolegal scholars have become increasingly interested in studying media representations of crime in popular culture. They have studied representations using content analyses, often examining their “accuracy” against academic research. Alternatively, these scholars have also studied media effects. In contrast to these studies, I focus on the television production process of making entertaining, dramatic representations of crime. In doing so, I empirically address the following research question: how do TV writers know about crime, and how do they transform that knowledge into fictional representations? I answer this question using a triangulation of methods to gather data – specifically, ethnography, archival research, and interviews with writers and producers – and through the juxtaposition of several case studies. My case studies include the following Canadian crime television programs: 1) the police drama 'The Bridge,' 2) an original Canadian drama about insurance fraud, 'Cra$h and Burn,' and 3) crime docudramas, such as 'F2: Forensic Factor' and 'Exhibit A: Secrets of Forensic Science.' Taking cues from Bruno Latour’s actor-network theory, I focus on the site-specific, concrete, dynamic processes through which each television production makes fiction. I conceive of the writers’ room as a laboratory that creates representations through collaborative action and trial and error. This research demonstrates that, during the production process, representations of crime are unstable, constantly in flux as various creative and legal entities compel their revision. Legal entities, such as Errors and Omissions insurance and broadcasters’ Standards and Practices, regulate the content and form of representations of crime prior to their airing. My findings also reveal the contingency of (commercial) success, the heterogeneity of people who make up television production staff, and the piecemeal state of knowledge that circulates between producers, network executives and writers.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/32075
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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