• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe the concept of a 'Moral Panic' and explain how this may impact on publics perceptions of crime

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Describe the concept of a 'Moral Panic' and explain how this may impact on publics perceptions of crime Most people use second hand information as their core source of information about crime, this source of information usually being the media. When carrying out sample research in Birmingham, Susan Smith (1984) discovered that 52% of people obtained most of their information about crime from the media, 36% obtained it from hearsay or alleged experiences of friends and neighbours, 3% from their own experiences, and 1% from the police service themselves (cited in Jones, 2001; 8). However the media tend to exaggerate upon areas of criminal activity causing a moral panic. 'A moral panic is a semi- spontaneous or media generated mass movement based on the perception that some individual or group, frequently a minority group or subculture, is dangerously deviant and poses menace to society. These panics are generally fuelled by the media, although not always caused by, media coverage of social issues... These panics can sometimes lead to mob violence... (newsfilter.co.uk). Some of the governing models of moral panics include Jock Young (1971) and Stanley Cohen (1972). Stanley Cohen fabricated the idea of moral panics in his book Folk Devils and Moral Panics (1972), whilst Jock Young concentrated more on the correlation of deviance amplification and drug taking. The main feature of a moral panic is deviance amplification; this was looked at in more detail by Stanley Cohen (1972) in what he called the deviancy amplification spiral. Some examples of media moral panics include; internet pornography, violence in video games, immigration, single parents etc... ...read more.

Middle

Moral panics can occur at anytime anywhere. However they tend to occur at times when societies are finding it difficult to modify to momentous changes. Such changes lead chaos within society creating panic among people regarding the status of their society. Moral panics are represented by the mass media in many ways; through newspapers, the radio, and the television. The nature of them can be based on both novel events and events which have been of existence for a long time, but it takes something to spark off the importance of it. For instance, bullying has always occurred throughout schools but in 2002 13-year-old Jack Glasby took is own life because of the bully he received at school, due to this there was a moral panic in the mass media about bullying in schools. Following this a number of parents decided to remove their children from schools. The effects caused from moral panics can go in one of two directions; they can either die out quickly, or have more severe long-term consequence; as it did in the 'video nasties'. The 'video nasties' was recognized after the murder of the toddler James Bulger by two juveniles (Critcher, 2003; 64). The media turned this into a moral panic; many papers said that dramatic action was needed against the 'evil'. Bradley cited the Times newspaper as an example, the headline read 'restore the notions of pure innocence and born evil in a way that few people were prepared to question'. ...read more.

Conclusion

commented: 'The most likely reason for public misperceptions is that information about sentencing comes largely fro the media, and news values militate against balanced coverage. Erratic court sentences make news; sensible ones do not. As a result large parts of the population are exposed to a steady stream of misleading stories about sentencing incompetence' (cited in Jones, 2003; 89). Therefore, evidence supports the notion that the mass Medias coverage of crime is the primary explanation for the public's apprehension regarding crime throughout episode when the actual crime rate is not increased. Consequently, it can be concluded that the way in which the media does this is through the creation of 'moral panics', an intelligent but complex process. The media are constantly profiting from making an impact upon publics perceptions of crime 'by mass manipulation, commercial 'laissez-faire', and consensual paradigm' (Jones, 2003; 86). The correlation between 'moral panics' and public's perceptions of crime functions just like the 'deviancy amplification spiral'. The media intensify moral panics, consequently amplifying the 'fear' of crime in society, resulting in more abnormal behaviour, higher criminal sentences, and an increase both official and unofficial statistics in the area paid attention to. Evidence suggests that public's perceptions of crime are formed in one way or another by 'moral panics'. Jones (2003) broadly summed up this: "Left realists...claim that people select their newspapers and their TV viewing in accordance with their existing attitudes. Yet, how did these attitudes come to be formed in the first place? As most people are not the victims of serious crime, the obvious alternative source of information is conversation. However, questions then arise to how the other person's opinions were reached. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Crime & Deviance section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Crime & Deviance essays

  1. Sociological Theories on Crime and Deviance

    Gangs wear their colours; prostitutes have their own vocabulary of tricks and johns; skinheads have their insignia and music. All are examples of deviant communities. Ironically, subcultural norms and values reinforce the deviant label both inside and outside the deviant group, thereby reinforcing the deviant behaviour.

  2. Free essay

    Assess the view that crime and deviance is the result of labelling, the media ...

    These are however, generally controlled, but we all hold them, and we all do them. Matza suggests that delinquents are simply more likely than most of us to behave according to subterranean values in inappropriate situations. Matza believed that the delinquents deviated from the norms of society by using techniques

  1. Crime: Social construction or reality?

    Moral panics first emerged in the 1960's. Moral panics are the public, political and media reactions to certain events. They are seen as public outcries. The events are a threat to social order for example soccer violence and vandalism. Stanley Cohen produced the term moral panic and it was his

  2. My hypothesis I expect to find that the official crime statistics in ...

    When asked in my questionnaire if they had reported the crime that they had been a victim of only 6 out of 23 said yes, that means that there are at least 17 unreported crimes in my area, this means that from my study I have learnt that most crime in my area goes unreported, this proves my first hypothesis.

  1. Why do people bully? The expert on bullying, Professor Dan Olweus of the University ...

    This is because whenever a bully watches another individual that appears weak, it disturbs his mind because it reminds him of himself causing him to take revenge on individuals weaker than him. Family issues are the main risk factors for bullying.

  2. examine ways in which the media stimulate moral panics and create folk devils

    of the majority of society, and that a change will be brought about to people's lives as these cannot be controlled. The media also gives credence to the view that moral standards are declining, and by exaggerating the crime paints the portrait of a country falling into a downward spiral.

  1. Is street crime or suite crime more harmful?

    and this led to many people losing their homes. The costs of the endowments scandal cost the industry a �100 million. These are some examples of the harm that corporate crime produces in terms of economic costs to people. Another area of consideration is that of physical harm caused by corporate crime, examples such as the drug Thalidomide that

  2. Mental illness is dependent upon the way in which the individual defines the situations. ...

    If the situations of the voluntary patients were switched and applied to Macmurphy, then the outcome would be very different. For example, Billy Bibbit, one of the patients who are on the world voluntarily, claimed to afraid of the outside world, but if his situation was applied to Macmurphy's life,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work