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Exam Note on Lecture 5 - Moral Panics.docx

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Steven Hayle

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LECTURE 5 - Moral Panics: The Role of Moral Crusaders in the Social Construction of Deviance -e.g. Witches -Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Wicked Witch of the West, White Witch from Narnia -Macbeth (Three Witches ), Roald Dahl – The Witches 1 - moral panic stems from the Salem Witch Trials (1692) => group of girls (Betty/Abigale) began doing weird things -everything was fine until many other people began to do the same weird things -resulted in these trials => 1636-1754 where 50-100k people were executed 2 - Satanic Ritual Abuse => moral panic over daycares -2.5yo boy sexually assaulted by another boy => expensive 7yr trial with the McMartin preschool -20 other schools cases popped up => fear of child abuse for satanic rituals -more women began working, resulting in an increased use of daycares -perhaps moms were anxious about leaving their kids there, thus feeding the moral panic 3 - Don‟t Take Candy from a Stranger => Hallowe‟en => spiking candy is the new form of satanism -Snow White and the poisoned apple from the witch Moral Panics - Cohen, 1972 -Societies appear to be subject, every now and then, to periods of moral panic -Folk devils Cohen, (1972) => A condition, episode, a person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests -In the gallery of types that society erects to show its members which ROLES should be AVOIDED and which should be emulated, these groups have occupied a constant position as FOLK DEVILS: visible reminders of what we should not be -its nature is presented in a stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media -editors, bishops, politicians and other right-thinking people -socially accredited experts pronounce their diagnoses and solutions -ways of coping are evolved or (more often) resorted to -the condition then disappears, submerges or deteriorates and becomes more visible -object of panic can be new or a resurgence of old that suddenly appears in the limelight -length of panic can vary from short/quickly forgotten (except in folklore/collective memory) to more serious and long lasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal and social policy or even in the way the society conceives itself -e.g. of folk devils => Mods (suits/scooters) and Rockers (leather/motorcycles) would sometimes clash -this was Cohen's motivation in defining "moral panic" & "folk devils" - News Media Reaction => newspapers headlines sensationalized + blew event out of proportion -Over-Reporting - in order to have a moral panic you need distortion -Distortion – when the news media EXAGGERATES grossly the seriousness of the events, in terms of criteria such as number taking part in, the number involved in violence, and the amount of any effects of damage or violence. -i.e. SENSATIONAL headlines, melodramatic vocabulary -Moral Panics and Rapid Social Change -can analyze the denotative/connotative meanings of moral panics + underlying myths *can't have a moral panic without the social fear -Cohen suggests that the reactions to the Mods/Rockers have to be placed within specific CULTURAL and HISTORICAL CONTEXTS in which the phenomena developed -Post-War Social Change in Britain => i.e. baby boom, end of depression, higher wages for youth, rising commercial youth culture, increasing leisure time for youth -"Hooligan" (Geoffrey Pearson) => idea of "the good ol' days" is a myth -"youth were different/better my age" can be considered a moral panic -Moral Panics and „Mugging‟ in Britain (around 1972) -Stuart Hall and many others – Policing the Crisis (1978) -Widespread panic over sudden appearance of „mugging‟ as crime problem -Hall argues that there was little, if any,
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