Looking at Cohen and Hall Et Al. studies as well as current moral panics and why they exist. 

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  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 13-04-12 15:08

1. Cohen - Moral panics and folk devils,

·         Cohen's early work on mods and rockers provides a graphic case study of media manipulation of events and the creation of a moral panic around folk devils.

·         The media blatantly distorted the events at Clacton in order to create sensational front page stories.

·         Cohen identifies three important processes of moral panics: symbolisation, exaggeration and prediction.

·         Moral entrepreneurs can manipulate people's insecurities in order to get the media to plant moral panics.

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2. Hall et al. Policing the Crisis

·         Hall et al's work is a study of how the media constructed a moral panic about the crime of 'mugging' in the early 1970s.

·         In doing so the media constructed the typical 'mugger' as a young Black male.

·         Hall et al argue that this media construction has its roots in the wider social conflicts and breakdown of consensus that were occurring in society.

·         In response to ruling class concerns about a crisis of capitalism the media took their cue generated a moral panic to divert attention and gain public support for new police powers.

·         However, by focusing upon ruling class interests critics argue they ignore other groups with a vested interest in changing the law.

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3. Recent Moral Panics

·         McRobbie and Thornton claim that the concept of moral panic is both outdated and in decline.

·         The death of Leah Betts (Ecstasy) had all the makings of a classic moral panic about young people and drug-taking.

·         There have been recent moral panics about asylum seekers (islamphobia), knife crime and hoodies.

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4. Why Do Moral Panics Come About?

·         Both Cohen and Furedi see moral panics as particularly linked to periods of social change.

·         Moral panics have been used as an excuse to increase police powers and introduce new laws.

·         Marxists argue that moral panics are cynically used to stir up people's fears and anxieties in order to sell newspapers and gain television viewers.

·         Lea and Young argue moral panics take hold when they lock into fears and anxieties already held by the public.

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