✪✪✪ Theory Of Moral Panic

Monday, October 25, 2021 1:49:51 AM

Theory Of Moral Panic

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What is a moral panic?

Moral panic is well known in the sociology of deviance and crime and is related to the labeling theory of deviance. The phrase "moral panic" and the development of the sociological concept is credited to the late South African sociologist Stanley Cohen — Cohen introduced the social theory of moral panic in his book titled "Folk Devils and Moral Panics. Through his study of these youth and the media and public reaction to them, Cohen developed a theory of moral panic that outlines five stages of the process. First, something or someone is perceived and defined as a threat to social norms and the interests of the community or society at large.

Second, the news media and community members depict the threat in simplistic, symbolic ways that quickly become recognizable to the greater public. Third, widespread public concern is aroused by the way news media portrays the symbolic representation of the threat. Fourth, the authorities and policymakers respond to the threat, be it real or perceived, with new laws or policies. In the final stage, the moral panic and the subsequent actions of those in power lead to social change in the community. Cohen suggested that there are five key sets of actors involved in the process of moral panic. They are the threat that incites the moral panic, which Cohen referred to as "folk devils," and the enforcers of rules or laws, like institutional authority figures, police, or armed forces.

The news media plays its role by breaking the news about the threat and continuing to report on it, thereby setting the agenda for how it is discussed and attaching visual symbolic images to it. Enter politicians, who respond to the threat and sometimes fan the flames of the panic, and the public, which develops a focused concern about the threat and demands action in response to it. Many sociologists have observed that those in power ultimately benefit from moral panics, since they lead to increased control of the population and the reinforcement of the authority of those in charge.

Others have commented that moral panics offer a mutually beneficial relationship between news media and the state. For the media, reporting on threats that become moral panics increases viewership and makes money for news organizations. For the state, the creation of a moral panic can give it cause to enact legislation and laws that would seem illegitimate without the perceived threat at the center of the moral panic. There have been many moral panics throughout history, some quite notable. The Salem witch trials, which took place throughout colonial Massachusetts in , are an oft-mentioned example of this phenomenon.

Women who were social outcasts faced accusations of witchcraft after local girls were afflicted with unexplained fits. Following the initial arrests, accusations spread to other women in the community who expressed doubt about the claims or who responded to them in ways deemed improper or inappropriate. This particular moral panic served to reinforce and strengthen the social authority of local religious leaders, since witchcraft was perceived to be a threat to Christian values, laws, and order. More recently, some sociologists have framed the " War on Drugs " of the s and '90s as an outcome of moral panic.

For Republicans, the preferred narrative of race and American history is one that minimizes the harm done to Black people, overstates white virtue and insists that racism is a personal prejudice in the minds of misguided or amoral people, rather than a system that structures cultures and institutions. This version of American history has placed racist injustice squarely in the past, but also, it quarantines racism in individual minds, rather than recognizing it as an infection that has contaminated our culture. But much modern anti-racist thinking rejects this.

After all, when racism is merely a personal idiosyncrasy, and not a systemic condition, nothing is required of white people, or of the institutions they control, except to deny that they feel hate in their hearts. But if racism is a foundational reality, and not just a personal prejudice, then much bigger changes have to be made — and more is required of white people than personal innocence. Opinion US politics. This article is more than 3 months old. Moira Donegan. The real reason Republicans want to ban schools from teaching CRT.

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