Moral Panic and media folk devils.
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oursework Moral Panic and media folk devils. * Introduction In this study I will first define what a moral panic is, then I will use previous studies from independent sources to find previous opinions and ideas and also what moral panics we have had (and are in the middle of) from the post war period onwards to present day. After this I will conduct my own study on the subject. * Hypothesis. My hypothesis for my study is that most people will agree that moral panics and folk devils are based mostly on rumours and fear influenced by the media. I believe this as many of the previous moral panics are now perfectly acceptable, and also due to media influence linking real life tragedies to other media as a scapegoat, such as shootings in America being influenced by computer games. Also I think that older people will be more concerned with moral panics than the younger generation as they have greater exposure to media, have a lesser interest in the subjects which start panics and have younger relatives and children. * Definition. The phrase moral panic can be defined as The Chambers Dictionary moral panic: the idea that 'a condition, episode, person or group of persons' (Cohen 1972) becomes defined as a threat to 'societal; values and interests' This can be simplified and explained as: When the media or government uses scapegoats to pass on the blame to a minority group or sub-culture to maintain popularity, these people blamed are known as folk devils and are often blamed for all the woes of modern society. To find more on this I will use six key questions on the topic that I will use secondary data to answer. After this I will use primary data in the form of questionnaires and interviews to further prove my theory. * Rationale I have chosen the subject of moral panic as the media has great influence in sociology, the media also interests me and how it affects society.
To research moral panics I used two methods to obtain both quantitative and qualitative information. I used a questionnaire for a large amount of data that I could process into numerical data to see what a large amount of people generally thought about Moral Panics. I also divided this data into two parts, older and younger people, to compare the views of both age groups to see what similarities and differences I can find. Part of my hypothesis was that many older people will be more concerned on these subjects than the younger generation, as they will have younger relatives or children. I also interviewed two people in each age group to get a smaller amount of more detailed data, this data could not be turned into numerical data but provides more information on and individuals view on the subjects. From this I could derive what subjects concerned the individual most. From this I could also elaborate on the subjects and see how they are linked and how the media influences them. By using these two methods together I will be able to find out what many people think and how they think they are affected by the media and to what extent. I will also be able to differentiate between groups of people and individuals views and how age has an effect. In my questionnaire I have asked the following questions: Question Reason Asked Are You male or Female? To differentiate male and female opinions on the subject. What age group are you in? To differentiate between the different age groups and to see how opinions differ. Do you watch news or read newspapers? To see if they have been exposed to media coverage on these subjects. If yes which ones? Too see which style of media they have been exposed to. E.g. The Sun or The Times. What do you think are the worst problems in society?
A larger amount of questionnaires would have allowed me to gain more conclusive results and better study the affects of moral panics. The interviews have disadvantages such as interviewer and interviewee bias. They also consumed a large quantity of my time limit and I could only get the views of a minority through them. It would have been beneficial to find a story starting a moral panic and follow it through until it was dropped, but again due to time limitations this was not possible. An interview with a media executive would have also been beneficial but again time limitations were too tight for me to arrange and carry out this. The questions I asked in my questionnaires could have done with more thought. In an attempt to create a questionnaire suitable for both adults and children I found it was too difficult for the children to answer and to vague and simple for the adults to give conclusive answers. If I repeated this study I would create separate questionnaires for both to get the most conclusive answers possible. If I did this study again I would try to get a larger sample from the questionnaires and construct separate questionnaires for adults and children to increase valid responses. I would also try to differentiate between male and female which was my original intent but found time too constricting for this to be possible. I would interview someone from the media as well as people affected by it to see another point of view. I would also give questionnaires to a more varied audience of people of different class, race etc. This would give me a more representative view of people's opinions. I would also find more areas of study in my secondary chapter and look at more moral panics. My textbook research was useful as it provided information into theories of who moral panics affect and why they affect them. It shows how moral panics are aimed at certain people and are not random.
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