Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Number of Pages



This project investigates public representations of domestic violence by highlighting televised reality-based police dramas (e.g., COPS, L.A.P.D.: Life on the Beat, Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, etc.). Specifically, it focuses on the intersection of race, class, and gender in the portrayal of police treatment of victims and suspects of domestic violence. The data for this research were gathered through the use of latent and manifest content analysis. Seventy-two hours (including commercials) of reality based programing were recorded for analysis, making 144 total individual shows and 48 episodes of each program; In general, police officers were portrayed as treating domestic violence cases with lower levels of seriousness than other types of crime. Officers were more likely to express frustration with crime victims and greater levels of futility in their efforts to stop domestic assaults from reoccurring than other types of crime. And they were more likely to express the opinion that domestic violence was the result of individual dysfunction (alcohol, nature of love, culture of poverty, masochism), than they were to express the opinion that there were contributing structural economic factors; On average, crime committed by Non-White suspects was taken more seriously by police than crime committed by White suspects. When controlling for domestic violence, quantitative differences in police treatment between White and Non-white suspects and victims disappeared. Few race differences emerged in latent content analysis of police dialogue and lectures in domestic violence scenarios. However, important distinctions were present. People of Color were portrayed as being more out of control and belligerent toward police officers than were White suspects and victims. Police were shown lecturing non-whites on U.S. law and exhibited greater amounts of frustration and less patience with those that spoke little or no English.


Domestic; Domestic Violence; Drama; Ethnicity; Examination; Ethnicity; Hyperreal; Life; Police; Police Drama; Race; Real; Television; Violence

Controlled Subject

Ethnology--Study and teaching; Women's studies; Mass media

File Format


File Size

2764.8 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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