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Folk Devils and Moral Panics
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Folk Devils and Moral Panics Stanley Cohen

Folk Devils and Moral Panics Stanley Cohen

Slide 2

If we do not take steps to preserve the purity of blood, the Jew will destroy civilisation by poisoning us all. (Hitler, 1938)

If we do not take steps to preserve the purity of blood, the Jew will destroy civilisation by poisoning us all. (Hitler, 1938)

Surely if the human race is

under threat, it is reasonable

to segregate AIDS victims,

otherwise the whole of man-

- kind could be engulfed.

(Daily Star, 1988)

Slide 3

Moral Panics

Moral Panics

The more comfortable the language of anti-terrorism is to us, the more familiar the terrorist figure who haunts us, the more entrenched that seizure of our political imagination. (Fortin)

Slide 4

Cohens research was a departure from traditional subcultural theory  his emphasis was on the reaction to the disturbances which took place in Clacton, Easter 1964. Cohens work deployed a synthesis of structural and labelling theories.

Cohens research was a departure from traditional subcultural theory his emphasis was on the reaction to the disturbances which took place in Clacton, Easter 1964. Cohens work deployed a synthesis of structural and labelling theories.

The amount of serious violence had been minimal.

Most young people who had gone to the seaside did not identify with either Mods or Rockers.

In short, the mass media had painted a distorted picture of events.

This set in process a deviancy amplification spiral. As public concern was ratcheted up, the police became sensitised to the phenomena

Slide 5

The police made more arrests, the media reported more deviance, more young people readily identified with the Mods and Rockersthe initial disproportionate response of various state and media control agencies generated more, not less deviance.

The police made more arrests, the media reported more deviance, more young people readily identified with the Mods and Rockersthe initial disproportionate response of various state and media control agencies generated more, not less deviance.

Cohen went further; the media had created a moral panic; a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests. These folk devils constituted a threat to the prevailing social order.

Slide 6

Deviancy Amplification Spiral

Deviancy Amplification Spiral

* Law and public opinion stipulate that there are many ideas and opinions which are to be condemned as outside the pale of consensus. (Fowler, 1991)

* Deviancy amplification Selective attention of crime control agencies, news and public concern on particular aspects of perceived and real increases in deviance = MORAL PANIC!!

Slide 7

Moral Panics and Social Control

Moral Panics and Social Control

Identification of a subversive minority

Simplification of cause

Stigmatisation of those involved

Stirring of public indignation

Stamping down hard. (Adapted from Muncie, 1987).

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