January 31, 2011
30 MC and 6-7 Short Answer (Explain the 3… Pick two of these things and describe them. There will be some choice. Use his lec-
tures for an indication of what to look at in the text. Focus on the paragraphs, not details of what is in them. So what is the take
home message of the paragraph, etc.
-Focus on the big ideas of the movie.
-If you are going to talk about moral panics, you have to talk about Cohen. His work overlaps with Becker a bit. Becker said devi-
ance is what is defined as deviance, and Cohen points to that process in looking at the Mods and Rockers. He shows how deviance
gets created and becomes an issue and how it draws a particular social control response.
-Moral panics has an interactionist feel to it because it is about the interaction between the rule breakers and rule makers.
Mods vs. Rockers
-The mods were good dressers, rockers were rock listeners. It was a bit of a class divide in that rockers were more middle-class.
They had this brawl and it spawned a reaction against delinquents and “kids these days”.
-The main idea is that this response is a disproportionate one. So in the context of this moral panic, the response is more than what
should be called for on the basis of the issue.
(What he sees as the) Main actors:
• The press (they are too much, and exaggerated)
• The public (there needs to be some sort of latent potential from the public. So you need some murmuring or in-
security, which will fuel this)
-Marxists looked at mugging in the UK and said this panic happened when the economy was bad, and this moral panic
served s a distraction).
• Law enforcement (look for zealous or broad enforcement with them going to town)
• Politicians (look for them being reactive and aligning themselves with the angels against the devils. So they
gauge where the wind is blowing and join the bandwagon)
• Action Groups (Becker calls them moral entrepreneurs. They are self-motivated and trying to drum up concern-
Moral enterprise is this idea of campaigning for it)
Folk devils (These are the targets of the panics and are often discussed as the personification of evil)
Disaster mentality (He described moral panics as characterized by this disaster mentality- similar to what you would see
during an earthquake. There is a heightened concern and predictions of impending doom)
Elements of a moral panic (Goode and Ben –Yehuda):
-Cohen’s work was extended by Goode and Ben-Yehuda. They identify what they see as 5 elements that can create a moral
• Concern (Heightened concern)
• Hostility (Increased hostility towards a particular group)
• Consensus (You need many people all on board)
• Disproportion (The reaction is exaggerated)
• Volatility (MP’s usually happen suddenly. A moral panic may get institutionalized and change structural things
like laws, etc. Others fade away and become essentially a joke)
3 models (that Good and Ben Yehuda talk about in terms of where moral panics come from):
-People talk about ideal types, but not everything will fit exactly into these categories, but these are the main ideals.
• Grassroots- A broad, widespread moral panic. It taps in to the latent thing he was talking about. Ex: MMR Vac-
cine and Autism. The concern came out of the fear of autism and one study and such.
• Elite-engineered- This is coming from a more Marxist perspective that looks at what society’s elite’s role in fuel-