Document Type

Dissertation - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Rural Sociology

First Advisor

Diane Kayongo-Male


Although several studies have examined knowledge and opinion of sex offenders and sex offender policy, none have focused specifically on how different sources of information may influence knowledge and opinion. This study attempts to fill that void by identifying whether a relationship exists between these elements, and, if so, what the nature of that relationship looks like using a social constructionist framework to describe the construction of sex offenders as a social problem. Major theoretical assumptions used throughout this work include: claims-makers and claims-making activities, moral panics, and the role of the mass media in framing social problems. Drawing on data collected from a random sample of 202 residents from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, this study found that sources of information affect familiarity with sex offender policies and attitudes toward sex offenders affect attitudes toward sex offender policies. Gender influences attitudes toward both sex offenders and sex offender policies. Limitations and suggestions for further research are discussed as well.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Sex offenders -- South Dakota -- Sioux Falls -- Public opinion
Sex crimes -- Government policy -- South Dakota -- Sioux Falls -- Public opinion
Mass media -- Influence
Television broadcasting -- Influence




South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright