Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

This study analyzed the portrayal of rape victims in seasons eight through twelve of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. This study sought to determine how rape victims are framed in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and how agenda setting is used to either perpetuate or cease the use of rape myths in the crime drama. Twenty-five episodes were qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed for framing devices, rape myths and agenda setting. Examination of the data and qualitative analysis indicated that rape victims in the show are mostly white non-Hispanic, single, and middle class, who also meet the American standards of beauty. This perpetuates the rape myth, that there is a typical victim. However, other rape myths were not as prevalent. Overall, rape victims were framed in either a positive or neutral way. This finding indicates that the portrayal of rape victims on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit may be improving.

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