An exception to ‘Nordic penal exceptionalism’? : A mixed methods approach to news on rape crime sentencing in Helsingin Sanomat (2005-2020)

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Title: An exception to ‘Nordic penal exceptionalism’? : A mixed methods approach to news on rape crime sentencing in Helsingin Sanomat (2005-2020)
Alternative title: Raiskausrikosten rangaistuskäytännöt Helsingin Sanomissa vuosina 2005-2020
Author: Työrinoja, Anna
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research (2010-2017)
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskap
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Sosiologia
Abstract: This master’s thesis looks at the representations of rape crime sentencing in the largest daily newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, from 2005 to 2020. Inspired by the Nordic penal exceptionalism theory this thesis set out to examine the notion whether Finland has resisted the punitive turn when it comes to rape crime through the lense of news reporting of rape crime sentencing principles. Relevant theories in addition to Nordic penal exceptionalism are social constructionism, penal populism and moral panics. The data was collected using a mixed methods approach to content analysis. Pieces of news on rape crime sentences (n=103) were examined quantitatively to see how news reporting on rape crime has developed in Helsingin Sanomat over the past fifteen (15) years and what types of trends are present in the news reporting. The quantitative data also compares the image of rape crime created by Helsingin Sanomat to the reality of rape crime. In addition to news pieces the editorials or leading articles (n=16) and articles (n=55) were analyzed through an inductive qualitative content analysis where themes were allowed to emerge from the data. The qualitative data was separated in to four distinct categories: lenient sentencing and value discussions, statistics, immigrants as a threat and consent-based legislation and feminist discourse. The research results show that the news on rape crime do not reflect the reality of rape crime and that there are overrepresentations of unknown perpetrators and perpetrators with a foreign name. A quantitative analysis was not sufficient to understand the social discussions surrounding the sentence news reporting so the qualitative data was needed to point out penal populist trends in the media representations of rape crime sentencing and to analyze the construction of moral panics through overrepresenting immigrants as a threat to social order. The notion that Nordic media has resisted a punitive turn is thereby not accurate, at least when it comes to rape crime.
Subject (yso): raiskaus
moraalinen paniikki
sosiaalinen konstruktivismi

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