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

Explain the concept of 'Moral Panics' and examine the claim that the media generate panics through news reports of deviant behaviour.

Extracts from this document...


5. Explain the concept of 'Moral Panics' and examine the claim that the media generate panics through news reports of deviant behaviour. A moral panic is said to occur when the media mobilises public opinion around the condemnation of deviance ("Media coverage of deviance: moral panics", lecture handout, 07-10-02). Deviance, in this context, refers to the violation of social norms and values, and the subsequent disruption of social order. This essay will begin with a clarification of the terms 'moral panic' and 'deviance' and outline how the two concepts are related. It will then describe the processes of news reporting while making reference to Stanley Cohen's established case study of the 1964 Bank Holiday fracas in Clacton, England as an example of such a media-fuelled moral panic. As briefly mentioned in the introduction, deviance occurs when people behave in a manner that is contrary to established social norms. In general, people are taught or conditioned to conduct themselves in a 'socially acceptable' manner, and theoretically, this management of peoples' behaviour ensures social cohesion and order. However, a number of questions are raised when one considers 'normal' social behaviour. For example, what is and is not socially acceptable? Who decides what is and is not acceptable? ...read more.


Unfortunately, important news is often structured around such criteria, sometimes at the expense of comprehensive and balanced reporting. If, for example, an article was to be written about a recent claim lodged with the Waitangi Tribunal, the historical context of the claim might be neglected to ensure the piece could be easily understood by readers and published expediently. Public reaction to previously published news items is also an influencing factor in the selection of news. For example, if a news item on crime rates generates a public outcry, similar news items are more likely to be selected due to the heightened interest. The particular subject of crime incidence may receive prolonged and intensive coverage and as more such events are selected, the more frequent and threatening they will appear to be. "The fear that a major problem is emerging is consequently reinforced and perpetuated; and the total picture of crime may thereby be gravely distorted" (Kelsey and Young, 1982, pp.9-10). In such a case, the beginnings of a moral panic about crime rates can be seen. The third and final stage of Kelsey and Young's news production analysis details the presentation of the selected news. As news (the press, in particular) ...read more.


And instead of functioning as a source of factual information, the media became an instrument through which rumours and subjective accounts of the events could reach a wider audience, thus consolidating the sense of social unease. So, as seen in Cohen's study of the Mods and Rockers moral panic, the media selects issues of deviance for news reports, largely because the public interest is aroused by the abnormal or unusual. However, in a number of these cases, where the news reports generate a public condemnation of that deviance, the media may (consciously or not) generate a moral panic. As Kelsey and Young's (1982) study noted though, the media is not independently responsible or accountable for the generation of a moral panic as the selection and presentation of news is heavily influenced by public demand. Thus, the responsibility for the generation of moral panics should be shared. While the media should in such cases strive to maintain a sense of journalistic honesty and integrity, rather than being completely motivated by financial incentives and the public demand for scandal, the public should also appreciate a range of value systems exist and that opinion regarding deviance is not universal. The public should also be aware that the media supplies them with the material they seemingly want and accommodates for what it believes is a social consensus of values. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Narrative 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 GCSE Narrative essays

  1. Discuss the way in which 'Neighbours' by Tim Winton and 'Stolen Car' by Archie ...

    'Where is the soil that spawned their ancestors? Only bitumen and cement here now.' Johnny is asking him self what is the purpose of these people, what contribution do they make, they have no real identity. 'They are like the leaves of yesterday's yellowed newspaper, with yesterday's news, whirling aimlessly in the dirty streets.'

  2. Evolution of 'new' media.

    It is this slow, relentless pace that sets 'traditional' media light-years apart from 'new' media. It is estimated that by 2005, approximately 194 million people will be on-line in the U.S. alone. Research shows that from 1996-2000, the number of people on-line had increased by a staggering 149% (Dessaucer, 2004: 124).

  1. The mass media has played a major role in structuring public perceptions of crime ...

    Given the size and inscrutability of contemporary society, few people are likely to have direct experiences of criminal and deviant behaviour. Therefore, most people's awareness of crime and deviance must be based on secondary sources. Sociologists claim that the mass media plays a major role in structuring public perceptions of crime and deviance by; 1.

  2. Investigation of TWO Information Systems.

    AFTER the waiting period, and if there were no serious objections that might invalidate the vote, and if 100 more valid YES/create votes are received than NO/don't create AND at least 2/3 of the total number of valid votes received are in favor of creation, a newgroup control message may be sent out.

  1. An Assessment of Bias and Objectivity in the News Media

    must be possible to be objective - otherwise, why complain of bias unless a suitable alternative can be imagined?40 In the first question, the issue whether it is possible to define and locate objective truth in a definitive manner was discussed.

  2. Media Third and Final Piece of Coursework

    been an interesting inclusion in our music video, as it would make the video unique and, thus, would help make the video memorable for viewers. Unfortunately, we later decided to reject this idea in favour of our second idea due to the gymnasts that we were planning to use as

  1. Should public figures expect a right to personal privacy? If so, how much privacy ...

    the right to sue if they feel that their private lives have been violated. Other celebrities some times resort to more extreme measures, such as Bjork, whose violent outburst ended up with her attacking a journalist. However, we must ask what gives a celebrity the right to slap an innocent

  2. "The Perfect Murder" by Renate Yates and "The Foal" by Mikhail Sholokhov - attempting ...

    These actions and also his actions at the end of the text, when he risks his own life to save the foal's only to be killed anyway, show to the full extent the attitudes, values and morals presented in the text.

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