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

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  • Essay length: 2109 words
  • Submitted: 06/06/2005
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AS and A Level Crime & Deviance

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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

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