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Public Underst Sci. 2012 Jan;21(1):51-67.

Investigating CSI: portrayals of DNA testing on a forensic crime show and their potential effects.

Author information

1
Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 53201, USA. barbley@uwm.edu

Abstract

The popularity of forensic crime shows such as CSI has fueled debate about their potential social impact. This study considers CSI's potential effects on public understandings regarding DNA testing in the context of judicial processes, the policy debates surrounding crime laboratory procedures, and the forensic science profession, as well as an effect not discussed in previous accounts: namely, the show's potential impact on public understandings of DNA and genetics more generally. To develop a theoretical foundation for research on the "CSI effect," it draws on cultivation theory, social cognitive theory, and audience reception studies. It then uses content analysis and textual analysis to illuminate how the show depicts DNA testing. The results demonstrate that CSI tends to depict DNA testing as routine, swift, useful, and reliable and that it echoes broader discourses about genetics. At times, however, the show suggests more complex ways of thinking about DNA testing and genetics.

PMID:
22530487
DOI:
10.1177/0963662510367571
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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