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Moral Panics Lecture


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Crime and Society – Moral Panics Lecture 07.12.15

Moral panics lecture will cover; the concept of moral panics, some possible reasons behind moral panics, the politics of a moral panic and also look into some moral panics case studies.

Cohen (1972) studied ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ and this was known to be the first systematic study of moral panics within Britain. He studied the social disturbance of the mods and rockers in Britain, during Easter Bank Holiday, in Clacton, the Summer of 1964. Groups of working class youths began arriving in Clacton, and this was a traditional holiday meeting place for youths form the East End of London. Facilities for young people were limited at the time, and some café owners, despite the already poor conditions, refused groups of youth’s entry to their establishment. There were minor scuffles, which eventually lead to massive brawls. The media allowed the story to receive front page news throughout the national press. They blew the story way out of proportion. According to Cohen most youths didn’t actually own a motorbike or scooter and had actually got there via train. Rivalry was mainly about regional identity, and argues that the amount of actual serious vandalism and violence, was actually on a small scale. Shortly after events, local journalists admitted the events had actually been over reported.

Media outrage had set in motion a chain of responses, which initiated a wider level of public concern. This lead to the police having to step in, and carry out stop and searches more often.

Young people had to be part of one group or another. It also leads to more trouble on subsequent Bank Holidays, as young people associated with the two groups, were lead to believe that they had to fight against people within the opposing group.

All this began to attract even more media news coverage. Lead to police activity

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