Book Analysis: Folk Devils and Moral Panics

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  • Topic: Sociology, Moral panic, Stanley Cohen
  • Pages : 2 (631 words )
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  • Published : June 24, 2011
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Folk Devils and Moral Panics
Stanley Cohen
In the book, Folk Devils and Moral Panics, Stanley Cohen wrote that moral panics usually include what he called a deviancy amplification spiral. In folk devils and moral panics, certain groups periodically become the focus of moral panics. They are labelled as being outside the central core values of our consensual society and as posing a particular threat to them. The groups investigated by Cohen were the Mods and Rockers. The 'central core values' which such groups transgress against are argued to be the norms and values which serve the interests of the dominant classes. The media whips up a moral panic which is coupled with calls for strengthening the forces of law and order. Cohen's study originated from his interest in the youth culture and its perceived potential threat to social order. Throughout each era, a group has emerged who 'fits' the criteria, such as the Teddy Boys, Mods and Rockers, Skinheads and Hells Angels. They all become associated with certain types of violence, which in turn also provoke public reaction and emotion, as topics in their own right. Such issues as football hooliganism, drug abuse, vandalism and political demonstrations, all struck a chord in public opinion, but the impact might not have been on such a large scale, were it not for the part the mass media play in the exposition of the facts. Cohen's study was primarily about the Mods and Rockers of the 1960's and the treatment they received in the public eye. The main criticism was that they were seen as a threat to law and order largely through the way the mass media represented them, in the form of what Cohen calls the 'control culture'. Largely this refers to the media sensationalising an event and then calling for a punishment to be set to persecute the offenders.

Stan Cohen’s classic study of the press coverage of Mods and Rockers “Riots” in the 1960s Sensationalised distortion of events
Predictions of future conflict and...
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