• Charlotte Ruge
This master’s thesis aims to examine the media portrayal of gangs in Denmark. Internationally the term gang is challenging due to lack of clear definition on the varying forms of criminal groups. The same goes for the similar Danish term ‘bande’. When the term street gangs first appeared in Denmark in the late nineties, researchers argued that there were no gangs and the use of the term was a manifestation of moral panic. Today the term gang is commonly used in the media even though there is no consensus on a definition of the term. In spite of the lack of a clear measuring devise, the Danish police report that the gang phenomenon has increased, and since 2009 gangs have been the main focus of Danish police.

In order to analyze the portrayal of gangs in the media, I use a quantitative document analysis to get an overview of the gang discourse and context of the coverage and a qualitative discursive analysis to further examine the language used in regards to gangs. In the quantitative analysis the primary variable consist of a coding into social control discourses, ranging from total control to more prevention than control. The aim is to examine the hypothesis, that the media portrays gangs through a tougher control discourse today compared to ten years ago.

The study is based on 136 articles with the word ‘bande’ in the headline from the two most cited newspapers Politiken and Berlingske in two periods of time, 2000-2005 and 2010-2015. The two periods are chosen to make a comparison with the purpose of examining whether the portrayal of gangs has changed. The qualitative analysis consists of a textual analysis of eight articles, four from each period.
The quantitative results show that gangs predominantly is portrayed through a total control discourse, where gangs are seen as dangerous and must be fought and jailed using harder penalties and proactive policing. This discourse has increased from the early period to the late period of time. At the same time there has been a decrease in the percentage of softer discourses that focus on more prevention than control. The qualitative analysis shows similar results. The discussion of gangs is overall tough, especially in the late period of time.

The theoretical framework for the study is based on a social constructive approach where the media is seen as a co-actor in the construction of the gang phenomenon. Specifically I discuss whether or not, the media is creating moral panics through the portrayal of gangs. The evaluation leads to the conclusion that there are signs of moral panic in the period 2000-2005 and in 2010-2015. But neither in the early or the late period of time all criteria are met, and therefore the concept of moral panic is not present at any time.
Publication date25 Jun 2016
Number of pages71


ID: 234910644