Ice towns: Television representations of crystal methamphetamine use in rural Australia

Lisa Waller, Katrina Clifford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The Australian news media regularly presents crystal methamphetamine use as a non-metropolitan ‘epidemic’ sweeping through country towns with devastating consequences for affected communities. Considerations of place and the notion of rurality are therefore crucial to understanding how these media representations are constructed and their power to influence national understandings of rural people, places and policy debates. In order to explore these complexities, we apply Simon Cottle’s ‘communicative architecture of television’ methodology to an analysis of three long-form reportage television programmes on the theme of ice use in small Australian towns. Theories of ‘social imaginaries’ inform the argument that a distinctive Australian ‘agrarian imaginary’ can be discerned through the reporting’s strong associations with the connections and contradictions attached to ideas and emotions about ‘the bush’. The television programmes draw on what Cottle terms ‘mythic’ and ‘collective’ frames that reach into the cultural reservoirs of communities to reinforce national perceptions, values and narratives about how rural communities ought to be, and by extension, how they ought to deal with complex social problems, such as illicit drug distribution and use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-199
Number of pages15
JournalCrime, Media, Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


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