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Moral Panic
Moral panic

A concept first used by Cohen (1973) to describe orchestrated and mass mediated public campaigns aimed at generating fear of visibly identified ‘folk devils’. Moral panics are directed at bringing about changes in law, policy or current practices (which are represented as being lax or too lenient) in order to protect the public from the identified threat. However, we should be careful not to suggest that a moral panic is an actual ‘thing’. Rather, as Critcher (2003: 2) suggests, a moral panic is ‘a model of a process’ displaying several key characteristics. These characteristics do not necessarily manifest themselves sequentially as moral panics tend to have a ‘circular and amplifying’ structure rather than a linear development (Cohen, 1973: 24). Nevertheless, six processes can ...

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