Making sense of violence: a study of narrative meaning


Dramatized violence has been a feature of entertainment in western civilization throughout history. The function of film violence is explored and compared to violence encountered in real life. The role of narrative in individuals' meaning-making processes is also investigated. Six adults were individually interviewed using a semi-structured schedule and narrative analysis was implemented. The findings revealed that real life violence is experientially distinct from film violence but narrative was found to be central to participants' quest for the meaning of violence in both contexts. The narrative framework of violence and whether it is justifiable were fundamental to participants' understanding. The function of violent film was found to be multifaceted: it can teach viewers about the consequences of violence; it allows them to speculate about their own and others' reactions to violence; and it provides an opportunity to experience something which is ordinarily outside of our experience in order to satisfy our human existential needs.

Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences
College of Health & Life Sciences > Chronic and Communicable Conditions
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Shaw, Rachel L. (2004). Making sense of violence: a study of narrative meaning. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1 (2), pp. 131-151. Qualitative Research in Psychology is available online at:
Publication ISSN: 1478-0895
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2023 10:04
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2019 08:50
Full Text Link: 10.1191/1478088704qp009oa
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 78088704qp009oa (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2004
Authors: Shaw, Rachel L.



Version: Published Version

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