CSI and moral authority: The police and science

Gray Cavender, Sarah K. Deutsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Since it first aired in 2000, CSI has consistently been among the top-rated television programs in the United States. In this article, we analyze CSI's debut season and also include observations about the program today as well as its two spin-offs: CSI: NY and CSI: Miami. We are interested in the cultural meanings conveyed in this very popular forensic crime drama, especially in terms of the moral authority of the police and of science. We consider how CSI uses the conventions of the crime genre to assert the police as a moral authority. We also demonstrate how CSI portrays a sense of forensic realism, and, in so doing, asserts the veracity of science. We conclude with a discussion of what these meanings suggest about the legitimacy of policing and of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-81
Number of pages15
JournalCrime, Media, Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2007


  • Moral authority
  • Science
  • Television crime genre

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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