Dance Music and Moral Panic

Topics: Punk rock, Punk subculture, Rave Pages: 10 (3609 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Discuss one of the ideas of the following writers in relation to popular music culture: Stanley Cohen. You may use a case study approach in your answer.

Scholars such as Rietveld suggest that;
The British Culture has a long history in regulating pleasures associated with parties. A fear seems to exist of the unregulated body that dances and is intoxicated...It is therefore not surprising that the acid house parties; that heady mix of house ‘n’ E events in 1998, were followed by various moral panics. (Rietveld, 1998, pp. 253-4.) The dance music genre that became popularised in the late 1980s led to the media amplification and misunderstanding regarding issues surrounding drug misuse as well as the creation of a moral panic in mainstream society. In this assignment an examination of this aforementioned misunderstanding and the connection between musical genres, subculture and labelling will be discussed in relation to Cohen’s theory regarding moral panics. An examination of two differentiating genres of music and culture will be given to assess the relevance of Cohen’s ontological assumptions regarding the creation of moral panic. An assessment of how the media can heavily affect societal norms regarding definitions of deviance will also be considered. The politicisation of young people as the result of secondary deviance will be critically examined in relation to the genre of dance music and the punk culture of the 1970s. It can be suggested that in order to critically examine Cohen’s theory regarding the creation of moral panics within society it would be advantageous to clearly define the aforementioned hypothesis in more detail. Scholars such as Cohen asserts that the creation of moral panic occurs within society when a marginalised group or subculture is labelled as deviating from the norms and values of any given society. Once this deviation has occurred scholars such as Thompson (1998) suggest that these individuals or groups are labelled as “folk devils” and deemed somehow responsible for the moral or socio-political problems within the aforementioned societies. In his thesis regarding the moral panic within Great Britain in the 1960s surrounding the mods and rockers subcultures Cohen hypothesised that there is a clear relationship between the media and the creation of society’s deviants being labelled as responsible for societal problems. It can be argued that such shifts in public opinion regarding certain groups within society occurs through many varied processes such as “moral passages” in which societal definitions of deviance are ever changing (Gustfield, 1967) or due to the very labels given to individuals deviating from the excepted norm (Lemert, 1967). In his study Cohen identified in more detail the “moral passage” that occurred in relation to the mods and rockers movement he studied. He hypothesised that through a process of simplification of the issues regarding deviant groups within society the stigmatisation of such groups as “folk devils” occurs. Cohen identifies these groups as; “The gallery of types that society erects to show its members which roles should be avoided.” (Cohen, 1980, p. 87). In his identifications of the creation of moral panic Cohen theorised that once this stigmatisation happens a moral panic is created when media institutions such as newspapers amplify such negative stereotypes and create anxiety within society regarding such deviating groups. The aforementioned process is what Cohen defines as being an “amplification of deviance” resulting in the institutionalisation of sub-cultures by major institutions within society such as the police and the media (Cohen, 1980, p. 88 ). Followers of Marxist ideological assumptions take this idea further and theorise that this process is particularly prevalent in the homogenisation of the disadvantaged within society (or the proletariat.) Scholars such as Willis (1978) claim that the process of creating a moral panic is done so...
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