Describe what is meant by the term 'moral panic', using your own words as far as possible - Cite at least one example of a 'moral panic'.
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DD100 TMA 07 Question Part (b) Describe what is meant by the term 'moral panic', using your own words as far as possible. Cite at least one example of a 'moral panic'. The term moral panic is a concept introduced by the social sciences to help understand certain problems that arise in society from time to time. Periodically society is faced with a problem that threatens the moral standards of the day. Geoffrey Pearson in his book Hooligan came up with the idea that the older generation of every period look back on their younger days as a time of morality, comparing it with the immorality of the present day youth. The institutions responsible for law and order in whichever time period the narrative is referring to are unable to contain the crime problem.
The young man informed them that they would probably be in Brighton on Whit Sunday. Come the Whit Sunday the press were ready and waiting in Brighton and the clashes were much more serious than the previous. The press also caused the public to perceive the latest developments as an escalating problem. The continual and excessive reporting by the media and strong reaction by the police served to attract more youths into the equation and fuel further clashes. The press also reported on the identities of the mods and the rockers' highlighting such differences as dress codes between the two groups of youths. The press therefore helped to distinguish differences between two distinct youth sub-cultures. The late 1980's saw the emergence of a new youth sub-culture and indeed a moral panic.
But as the details of the case emerged and it became apparent that Leah was partly to blame for her own death and that this young lady was typical of many youngsters throughout the country, it became increasingly difficult for the press to simplify and stigmatise the cause of the problem. The key stages of a moral panic are the identification of the problem or cause. Followed by the generalization of that cause or singling out of the main offender(s) by the press. Then comes the attempt to stigmatise the simplified cause by way of selective reporting and widespread media attention. The media attention then triggers a public reaction with calls for action from the authorities, the press again being used as the medium. The authorities then respond with tougher action and tighter forms of control often initiating more media interest and further public concern, as the initial problem appears to grow. 1
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