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Using Material from Item a and Elsewhere, Assess Sociological Explanations of the Role of the Mass Media in Creating Moral Panics About Crime and Deviance. [21 Marks] (35 Minutes)

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Using material from Item A and elsewhere, assess sociological explanations of the role of the mass media in creating moral panics about crime and deviance. [21 marks] (35 minutes)

The media is often held accountable for the exaggeration of crime and deviance, in order to create a ‘newsworthy’ story. According to Durkheim, the media plays a vital role to maintain society in what is considering socially acceptable thus reinforcing the norms and values that must remain. Similarly, he states all change is instigated by deviance therefore through the media addressing such issues on a national scale aims to increase the rate of social change. An example of this, is homosexuality in countries where such actions are illegal or heavily frowned upon. Therefore, such deviance according to Functionalists, when projected on a world scale, is seen as fundamental for social change and creating equality. However other perspectives would perceive this as the victimisation of people.

Cohen’s work on Folk Devils and Moral panics directly highlights such issues. His study addresses the harsh challenges met by those with different norms, values and morals have to be accepted. The result was that this new group is outcasted in society and victimised for their different values. Similarly, Jock Young’s study of the Drug Takers was met with similar results. The ‘hippies’ used in a participant observation whilst using the drugs, was picked up by the media as criminal and deviant activity. Agents of social control such as the police responded by arresting and labelling the group and ‘junkies’. Therefore, the activity has grown in numbers as the acceptance of the label has become a part of their self-fulfilling prophecy, or, as stated by Lemert, their secondary deviance. Therefore the role of the media led to the labelling of the deviant subculture which resulted in its growth, through...

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