Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance 2nd Edition
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–Philip Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University
"Moral Panics is more than a classic text in social theory. In this newly updated and enlarged edition, it is an indispensable text for every twenty-first century scholar interested in the social construction and diffusion of fear."
–Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear
"Moral panics remains one of the most hotly-debated sociological ideas to have entered the public sphere, so an up-dated version of Goode and Ben-Yehuda’s pathbreaking work on this subject is very welcome. The new version is even more enlightening than its predecessor."
–Kenneth Thompson, Open University
- Publisher : Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd edition (September 8, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1405189339
- ISBN-13 : 978-1405189330
- Item Weight : 1.23 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.8 x 0.74 x 9.8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #354,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Erich Goode and Nachman Ben-Yehuda provide one mechanism. In their thoroughly researched work, Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance, they expand upon Stanley Cohen's earlier work, Folk Devils and Moral Panics, to provide empirical support for a theory of the episodic chartacter of these crusades.
Here's the nut paragraph:
"Moral panics represent struggles over symbolic representations ... Sectors of society, or a major swath of society, become aware of a threat; feel concern and hostility toward supposed perpetrators; name and denounce suitable targets; activate or voice available avenues of denunciation and control, including public opinion, the media, the legislature, and social movement activists and interest groups; and before very long, drop the matter and turn their concerns to other issues." p. 81. Moral panics, in other words, represent less good versus evil that paroxysms that seize groups from time to time, much like an illness may overcome an immune system.
The episodic character of these panics is small comfort to those destroyed in the frenzy of the crusade. How many lives were destroyed while we searched for the devil's emissaries in the schools? We know the names of those killed as witches in Salem. How many have we now criminalized as sex offenders while using libidinal images to sell everything from toothpaste to cars? (A panic that deserves its own name -- sexoprhrenia.)
This is a work largely written for social science researchers. However, it can be read with profit by those dealing with the human wreckage caused by moral crusades. I recommend the book to all criminal defense lawyers. We stand next to individuals often vilified by a the crowd; it helps to know that mob passions come and ago. Being armed with a vocabulary to distance ourselves from moral panics will, at the very least, provide a point of leverage to argue with courts and persuade juries that evil isn't an invading force coming from without; rather, evil is a force we create, manage, and nurture for reasons we scarcely understand.