Unfortunately, it also narrows the analysis of such crimes, as it fails to incorporate many of the familiar (although not inevitable) characteristics of serial killing.
These include such things as the diverse influences of the mass media on serial killers as well as their tendency to select victims from particular walks of life.
While this emphasis on personal biography lends itself to much needed psychological analysis, the cumulative effect of such accounts is that serial killing can appear a-historical and a-cultural, as though such predispositions might manifest themselves in identical ways irrespective of context.
In fact, serial killing is intimately tied to its broader social and historical setting, something that is particularly apparent when such killing is considered in relation to a series of broad historical changes that have occurred over approximately the past 400–500 years, commonly associated with the rise of modernity.
Mass media and the culture of celebrity Although serial killing is statistically rare, it is nonetheless a ubiquitous cultural phenomena, one that for the vast majority of people is best understood as a media event (Gibson, 2006).
Serial killers have become an inescapable point of reference in movies, television fiction, novels, true crime books and video games.
These include the rise of a society of strangers, the development of a culture of celebrity, and cultural frameworks of denigration and marginalisation.
Society of strangers Mass urbanisation is a distinctive characteristic of the modern era, something that has profoundly altered the nature of human relationships by virtue of generating an unprecedented degree of anonymity.
By widely circulating the details of specific serial killers, the mass media establishes the ‘serial killer’ as a dominant cultural category.
One upshot is that, whereas in antiquity killing sequentially may have been something that someone did, today a serial killer is something someone can be.