Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 18 Issue 6 (November/December 2008), Pages 527-646

Media and community anxieties about men's interactions with children (pages 527-542)

Abstract

Partially as a response to community concerns related to sexual abuse, men's interactions with other people's children have become highly regulated. This paper documents media deliberations regarding the maintenance of barriers to men's interactions with children. Attention is given to news coverage of an incidence where a man was asked to shift seats on an aircraft due to an airline policy prohibiting men from sitting next to unaccompanied children. Media framing of controversy surrounding this incidence occurred across television, radio and newspaper reports and letters to the editor and talkback radio calls. Coverage reveals tensions between negative constructions of pedophiles and positive constructions of family men. The analysis highlights dilemmas within popular knowledge regarding children's safety and discrimination against men. Implications of media framing of such issues are explored through the experiences of 12 men participating in ongoing research into bloke culture in New Zealand. Seven of these men raised the airline case to invoke tensions they face when interacting with children. Of particular note are the ways in which men use media items as shared reference points for making sense of their own situations. The research strategy of analysing media items identified by research participants enables us to demonstrate the legacy of media and community deliberations in the accounts and relational practices of men. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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