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By Stuart Hall, Chas Critcher, Tony Jefferson, John Clarke, Brian Roberts

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Additional info for Policing the Crisis (Critical social studies)

Sample text

It is no mere fact about crime in the United States which is reported. It connotes a whole historical construction about the nature and dilemmas of American society. The British media pick up American 'mugging' within this cluster of connotative references. The term is indexical: simply by using the label, a whole social history of the contemporary United States can be immediately and graphically mapped into place. Then the label is appropriated and applied to the British situation. Significantly, it is applied in Britain, first, precisely in its connotative dimensions.

In ithe 1950s the United States stood, and was reported, as the symbol of affluent success; in the 1960s it became the symbol of a modern industrial capitalist -society 'in crisis'. In both cases, the British media presentation of 'the United ^States' suffered from selective exaggeration. The United States seems always to be presented in 'larger-than-life' terms: more extravagent, more quirky, more ;bizarre, more sensational than anything comparable in Britain. And when 'American society began to run into serious difficulties, these too were presented in an exaggerated fashion.

The notion of a qualitative contrast between the present and the past was also a feature of many of the judge's remarks at this time (as it was later, during the 'mugging' wave). 6 The next example is from May 1972. At the end of a general attack on 'permissive legislation' and its links with the rising crime rate, easy divorces, drug-taking and abortion for foreign girls, and on the replacement of past 'tolerance and kindness' with the present 'unkindness, intolerance, greed and no faith in anyone or anything', the High Court judge, Sir R.

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