The three musketeers: social process theories, feminism and violence in the mass media

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Social process theories are a class of theories which putatively explain crime. These theories have been criticized, however, on two grounds. The first is that these theories do not take the gender differences in criminal activity into account. The second critique is that these theories tend to discount the importance of the media in the learning process. This paper attempts to expand social process theories in two ways: first, to use various facets of feminist theory to take these gender differences into account and second, to build on a large body of literature which snows the effects of media violence on viewers’ attitudes and behaviors to account for the role of mainstream films in the learning process.

A content analysis on the top 30 films of 1993 was performed to ascertain how much violence existed in these films, what types of violence was portrayed, and what motivations and rewards were associated with the violence. These factors were examined by the gender of the perpetrator and the victim in an effort to ascertain if similar gender differences were portrayed in mainstream film as are seen in reality.

The most notable findings were that men were more likely to be portrayed as both perpetrators and as victims in the sample set of films, a relationship that closely mirrors criminal activity in reality. It is argued that future research should focus on testing the relationship between social process theories and violence in mainstream films.



Social Process Theory, Film Violence, Content Analysis