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Related: moral - panic
A moral panic is a mass movement based on the perception that some individual or group, frequently a minority group or a subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses a menace to society. These panics are generally fuelled by media coverage of social issues (although semi-spontaneous moral panics do occur), and often include a large element of mass hysteria.
A moral panic is specifically framed in terms of morality, and usually expressed as outrage rather than unadulterated fear. Though not always, very often moral panics revolve around issues of sex and sexuality. A widely circulated and new-seeming urban legend is frequently involved. These panics can sometimes lead to mob violence. The term was coined by Stanley Cohen in 1972 to describe media coverage of Mods and Rockers in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. A factor in moral panic is the deviancy amplification spiral.
A moral panic is different from mass hysteria in that a moral panic is specifically framed in terms of morality, and usually expressed as outrage rather than unadulterated fear.
Recent moral panics in the UK have included the ongoing tabloid newspaper campaign against pedophiles, which led to the assault and persecution of a pediatrician by an angry mob (who'd mistaken the terms) in August 2000, and that surrounding the murder of James Bulger in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom in 1993. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_panic [Jun 2005]
Criminal Conversations: Victorian Crimes, Social Panic, And Moral Outrage (2005) - Rowbotham, Stevenson
Criminal Conversations: Victorian Crimes, Social Panic, And Moral Outrage (2005) - Rowbotham, Stevenson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
In the climate of social panics that characterized so much of the Victorian period, there was keen consciousness of the threats a variety of crimes posed to social stability. Conversations about crime, particularly via the media, were a major feature of Victorian Britain’s daily life, and it was through such conversations that people learned about the nature of crime and criminality, as well as about the individuals who committed crimes or were merely guilty of socially offensive conduct or “bad” behavior.
The essays in this book set out to explore the ways in which Victorians used newspapers to identify the causes of bad behavior and its impacts, and the ways in which they tried to “distance” criminals and those guilty of “bad” behavior from the ordinary members of society, including identification of them as different according to race or sexual orientation. It also explores how threats from within “normal” society were depicted and the panic that issues like “baby-farming” caused.
Victorian alarm was about crimes and bad behavior which they saw as new or unique to their period—but which were not new then and which, in slightly different dress, are still causing panic today. What is striking about the essays in this collection are the ways they echo contemporary concerns about crime and bad behavior, including panics about “new” types of crime. This has implications for modern understandings of how society needs to understand crime, demonstrating that while there are changes over time, there are also important continuities.
Judith Rowbotham is senior lecturer in history, Nottingham Trent University. Kim Stevenson is senior lecturer in law at the University of Plymouth. Rowbotham and Stevenson are founders and directors of SOLON: Promoting Interdisciplinary Studies in Bad Behavior and Crime. --http://www.ohiostatepress.org/index.htm?books/book%20pages/rowbotham%20criminal.html [Jun 2005]
Coined by Stanley Cohen (sociologist)
Professor Stanley Cohen is the Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. A leading writer on criminology, he is credited with coining the term moral panic in his 1972 study (Folk Devils and Moral Panics) of the popular UK media and social reaction to the Mods and Rockers phenomenon of the 1960s. It includes the Deviancy Amplification Spiral. Cohen suggests the media overreact to an aspect of behaviour which may be seen as a challenge to existing social norms. However, the media response and representation of that behaviour actually helps to define it, communicate it and portrays it as a model for outsiders to observe and adopt. So the moral panic by society represented in the media arguably fuels further socially unacceptable behaviour. The response to the use of ecstasy in the 1990s could perhaps be described as an example of a modern day moral panic. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Cohen_%28sociologist%29 [Apr 2005]
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