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Outline and assess the view that moral panics are created by the media

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Introduction

´╗┐Outline and assess the view that moral panics are created by the media A moral panic refers to an exaggerated reaction, from the media, the police or wider public, to the activities of particular social groups. This means that activities may well be relatively trivial but have been reported in a somewhat sensationalised form in the media. These are seen as a threat to society?s norms and values. However there are frequent panics expressed in the media that do not necessarily refer to moral concerns, for example, about shortages of fuel or food safety. Cohen in 1972 identified the stages of development of a moral panic. First the media use sensational, stereotypical and exaggerated language in stories and headlines about particular event or group. This results in public anxiety, which is fuelled by influential commentators like bishops and politicians. ...read more.

Middle

Cohen?s study of moral panics used integrationist methodology. He observed seaside fights between two youth subcultures, the mods and rockers, and examined the media response. He argued that the media labelled the mods and rockers in a negative and stereotyped way and as a result they came to be seen as ?folk devils?. This means that they became a threat to society?s values and interests. Cohen highlighted the role of the media in in defining the situation and argued that they had created a greatly exaggerated picture of the conflict between mods and rockers. In support of this, the film ?Juno?, released in 2007 in the USA, was reported in the media as glorifying teenage pregnancy when 17 girls in an American high school became pregnant in one year. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hall et al in 1995 expressed his view from a Marxist perspective and believed that moral panics serve an ideological function to support capitalism. Referring to the emergence of the ice of the term ?mugging? in the UK, he argued that it was applied to young working-class black men to cause division between black and white members of the working class. In addition the moral panic took attention away from economic problems caused by capitalism and allowed laws to be introduced that could be used to repress other groups that opposed capitalism. But such Marxist views are criticised for failing to acknowledge that moral panics can be the product of real concerns in society. They are also seen to take an over-conspirational view where members of the ruling class get together and decided on a course of action that creates a moral panic when there is no evidence of this having occurred. ...read more.

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