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Defining Violence

Defining Violence

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Defining Violence

The Search for Understanding

By David E. Morrison

Publication date: 1999
Total pages: 152
ISBN: 1 86020 568 2
Price: £ 17.50


Defining Violence: The Search for Understanding takes forward the debate on television violence, examining the choices made by viewers who were asked to edit different examples of screen violence. The book examines what factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether violence is acceptable or not to the individual. It also poses the question – does personal experience of violence affect the way one defines it? As well as standard demographic sampling, groups were recruited who would bring added insight into violence: young men and women who were familiar with violence, policemen, World War II veterans, women with a fear of crime and parents of young children.

• Two factors emerge in determining whether a scene is violent or not: firstly, the nature and quality of the violence portrayed and, secondly, the way in which it is portrayed.

• While much of the violence seen on television is not seriously disturbing to viewers, this study demonstrates that, whatever their own personal experience of the subject, viewers define violence as an act which breaks a recognised code of behaviour.


Professor David E. Morrison is Research Director of the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds.

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