Book Review: Berns, Nancy S. (2004). Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media and Social Problems. Piscataway, NJ: Aldine Transaction.



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University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work


Nancy Berns presents a compelling argument for how the popular media influences public opinion about domestic violence and other social problems. Her book is the result of her research of the popular media portrayal of domestic violence. Berns’ defines popular media as television, radio, newspaper, movies, internet, books, and magazines. She argues that the general public uses the media as their only resource for information about social problems. Berns’ presents four main points about the problem of domestic violence and how the phenomenon is portrayed in the mainstream media. First, she maintains that the media frame domestic violence as a private matter warranting intervention only in extreme cases. Second, she argues that the media’s focus on the victim holds the victim responsible for ending the violence. Third, the media’s portrayal of the perpetrator emphasizes external factors for the abuse and negates personal responsibility. Finally, the media ignores social and cultural norms that foster abuse. These points are then considered in light of how they construct a common set of beliefs about domestic violence that influences public policy.



Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media and Social Problems, Nancy Berns, Perspectives on Social Work, Sherry Sheffield, Media, Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media and Social Problems, Berns, Nancy, Perspectives on Social Work, Social work, Media