Assess Sociological Explanations of the Role of the Mass Media in Creating Moral Panics About Crime and Deviance

1230 words 5 pages
Assess sociological explanations of the role of the mass media in creating moral panics about crime and deviance:

A moral panic is the process of arousing social concern over an issue, this is often an exaggerated over-reaction by society to a perceived problem, which is usually driven or inspired by the media. In this situation the reaction ends up amplifying the problem out of proportion to its real seriousness. This creates anxiety amongst the general population, and this therefore puts pressure on the agents of social control to deal with the problem, who then act accordingly to the group responsible for the panic. There is a strong relationship between mass media and crime. On average, around 30% of newspaper content is dedicated
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And with the media’s help, they feel a sense of loss, making them susceptible to the anxieties of the moral panic. Cohen and Young (1981) suggests the media’s involvement in the anxieties of a particular social group originates in the consensual nature of the media. Journalists assume that the public share the same values, and so the media focus on these ‘problem groups’ because it is seen as newsworthy as everyone shares the same moral concerns about the direction that society is taking. The media believe it is giving the public what they want.
Some sociologists would argue that moral panics are means of making a profit. Moral panics are the product of news values and the desire of journalists and editors to sell newspapers. This is an example of how audiences are manipulated by the media, as moral panics sell tabloid newspapers. After a while, news stories exhaust their cycle of newsworthiness and journalists abandon interest in them, because they believe their audiences have also lost interest. Social problems remain dormant until journalists decide at some future date that they can be made newsworthy again and therefore attract a large audience.
Marxist sociologist argue that moral panics serve ruling class ideology. They are devices used by the media to perpetuate fear, which enables greater control over the working class. Such fears make the