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The Satanism Scare (Social Institutions and Social Change) [Hardcover]

David G. Bromley , Joel Best , James T. Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

December 31, 1991 0202303780 978-0202303789

Although there is growing concern over Satanism as a threat to American life, the topic has received surprisingly little serious attention. Recognizing this, the editors of this volume have selected papers from a wide variety of disciplines, broadly covering contemporary aspects of Satanism from the vantage points of studies in folklore, cults, religion, deviance, rock music, rumor, and the mass media.

All contributors are skeptical of claims that a large, powerful satanic conspiracy can be substantiated. Their research focuses instead on claims about Satanism and on the question of whose interests are served by such claims. Several papers consider the impact of anti-Satanism campaigns on public opinion, law enforcement and civil litigation, child protection services, and other sectors of American society.

The constructionist perspective adopted by the editors does not deny the existence of some activities by “real” Satanists, and two papers describe the workins of satanic groups. Whatever the basis of the claims examined and analyzed, there is growing evidence that belief in the satanic menace will have real social consequences in the years ahead.

Editorial Reviews


“During the 1980s, media sensationalism and the rhetoric of fundamentalist preachers ushered in a new threat to the US - satanism. This collection examines the satanism scare as an emergent social problem grounded in extant belief systems but constructed through social action. The volume is well organized and provides an excellent, comprehensive, and readable treatment of the topic . . . Collectively, the articles in this volume make an important contribution to this approach to social problems as well as offering interesting insights into such topics as deviance, collective behavior, and the mass media. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”

J. Lynxwiler, Choice

The Satanism Scare is an important look at one of the most telling and least understood excitements of our time. A wise and compelling book.”

—Kai Erikson, Yale University

The Satanism Scare is a rare multidisciplinary look into a currently popular folk belief of growing cultural and social significance. Folklorists, anthropologists, sociologists, criminologists, an attorney, and a journalist all contribute their unique perspectives in this outstanding effort to understand the most recent manifestation of the traditional Euro-American witch-hunt. The broad interdisciplinary range of investigators covers a variety of data and research strategies. . . . [A] very useful compilation.”

—Linda J. Jencson, The Journal of American Folklore

“Let’s not mince words here. This book represents a facile and exemplary use of the social constructionist perspective. The editors have done an outstanding job of gathering a set of contributions to their volume, with a very high level of scholarship evidenced. . . . The Satanism Scare is an excellent book for use in upper-level classes in crime, deviance, religion, and social movements. It should also be required reading for cult cops and mental health workers. Come to think of it, it’s a good read for just about anyone interested in critical thinking.”

—Raymond A. Eve, Social Forces

About the Author

David G. Bromley is Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Senior Project Director in the Survey Research Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Joel E. Best is professor at the department of sociology and criminal justice, University of Delaware. He is the author of numerous books, including Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads; Deviance: Career of a Concept; and Random Violence: How We Talk about New Crimes and New Victims.

James T. Richardson is Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he directs the Master of Judicial Studies Degree Program. He does research in sociology of religion (on new religions or “cults”) and social psychology of law. He has co-authored several books, along with many articles in professional journals.

Product Details

  • Series: Social Institutions and Social Change
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Aldine Transaction (December 31, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0202303780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0202303789
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,702,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seriously about satanism April 27, 2000
By A Customer
The "Satanism Scare" is a modest and serious approach to satanism. I live in Norway and during the 90`s there has been a series of church burnings, linked to "satanists" or Black-metallers. During that period the press become in a state of moral panic. So much for the history. Even in Norway where satanism has been a big issue, there is hard to get a good book about the phenomena. But The Satanism scare is exactly that. And maybe if people read this book, the newspapers didn`t have to use this stupied headlines containing "child offering" and so on. All in all an enligthening book about something that scears people, with a modest approch, from sociologists, folklorists antrophlogists and other academics.
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