Moral panics was introduced by sociologist Stanley Cohen studying the youth culture in the 60s. Cohen looked at the media reaction to the fights between the mods and rockers at various seaside resorts in Britain in the mid-60s. His term ‘moral panic’ came to mean ‘a mass response to a group, a person or an attitude that becomes defined as a threat to society’. (Media studies; The Essential Introduction 2001 ed)
Cohen described moral panics as cultural politics. Moral panics are considered to include crime and activities of youth and some persecutions of individuals or groups such as anti-Semitic pogroms. Most recently various Muslim groups claim that some actions in the Western Countries following September 11 attacks are affecting Arabs, Muslims and those mistaken for them have created a moral panic. Before September 11 in Britain there was amoral panic of ‘scattergun’, the release of information about convicted paedophiles by individual police forces to local newspapers and the media, outing the offenders sometimes with tragic results.
The case of 7 year old Sophie Hook who was raped and strangled by Howard Hughes known to be a paedophile and other related cases created a media campaign to ensure that this never happened again. ‘The release of information of known paedophiles to parents and communities’. A concern which was capitalized on by the press with headlines such as ‘why do we live in terror; schools out – but the kids are locked up’. This only served to confirm the public growing fear. The National Sex Offenders Register discussed the role of media in creating the panic. Such campaigns and press coverage often result in modern day witch hunt for likely paedophiles or misidentification of paedophiles or perhaps generating ‘action groups’ in response to the panic. (Alan Travis, The Guardian 12/08/1997). In the same article it was reported that ‘unofficial child protection unit formed by angry dads in Teignmouth, Devon, savagely beat a convicted sex offender and threatened more attacks claiming only physical action can protect their children’. Paedophilia is not a new thing, but in such articles and press coverage or whether the actual threat did in fact influence the reaction of the public or maybe such behaviour was merely showing the actors and indicators, therefore identified as characterising the path of moral panic.
Furedi 1994 suggests that moral panics have a tendency to occur at times when society has not been able to adapt to dramatic changes. It is clear to see how a panic can be generated through amplification and deviancy capitalised by the media to create a new panic.
The Jamie Bulger case also highlighted deviancy within our societies. This created a moral panic as defined by Stanley Cohen. Individuals within society became increasingly aware of the risk passed by ‘child’s play the movie’, and the media kept this story running for weeks.
In more recent edition of Fork Devils and Moral Panics, Cohen has outlined some of the criticisms that have arisen in response to moral panic theory. The term panic itself it’s argued that it has connotations of irrationality and lacks control. However Cohen maintains that “panic” is a suitable term when used as an extended metaphor.
Outline and discus the usefulness of the hypodermic syringe model and the two step flow model of media analysis
Hypodermic syringe model also known as the’ magic bullet’ is a mental image of the direct, strategic and planned infusion of a message into an individual.
Berger (1995) states that “this idea assumes that the media message is a bullet from the “media gun” into the viewer’s head”. Hypodermic syringe model is a useful tool in manipulating and reproducing the norms and values and beliefs held by societies.
Society has been heavily influenced by the media. During World War 2 societies viewed the media