- Series: Critical Social Studies
- Paperback: 425 pages
- Publisher: Palgrave; 1978 edition (April 30, 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0333220617
- ISBN-13: 978-0333220610
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (Critical Social Studies) 1978th Edition
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In 1973 three boys were sentenced in Handsworth Birmingham to an exemplary and shocking sentence of ten and twenty years for having stabbed to death an elderly widower. The British public discussed “Mugging” in a case of “Moral Panic”. The term “mugging” was imported by the press from the US where it had the connotation of race riots. The practice of “mugging” did not differ so much from traditional British forms of street crime. The statistics do not proof a significant increase in street crimes in the years before 1972. The “Moral Panic” must be explained differently.
“Moral Panics” come into play when the deep structure of anxiety and traditionalism connects with the public definition of crime by the media and is mobilised.
The authors first analyse the news about “mugging” in the “Guardian” and the “Daily Mirror”. A theoretical chapter “Social Production of News” explains that the fit between the dominant ideas and professional media ideologies cannot simply be attributed to the fact that media are capital-owned or journalists are wicked, but must be explained by structural imperatives.
The authors try to identify these “deep structures” of professional news making. News producing relies upon the idea of a “consensus”. Crime has a high news value because crime is one of the boundaries of this social consensus. Court decisions are dramatized reassertions of the values of the society and the consensus-ideology.
The CCCS collective also analyses the letters to the editor. What follows is an analysis of the English ideology of crime and the deep structures of traditionalism. Crime allows the construction of a false unity out of the very different social conditions of the middle classes and the respectable working classes. The central components of this traditionalist “English” ideology are “Common Sense” and “Respectability”. Respectability” means different things for different social classes but forms the “cement of society” (Gramsci). Work is the guarantee for “respectability” for the “respectable working classes” and the difference between them and the “rough working classes”.
This traditional cross-class ideology comes together with a growing social anxiety and feeling of alienation. The “mugger” is the ideal scapegoat. Blacks and Asians are ready-made symbols for and symptoms of the sense of dislocation. What follows is a political analysis of the “moral panic” around “mugging” in the context of the origins of Thatcherism. The CCCS authors talk of a local “Lumpen-Bourgeoisie” which opposed the more cosmopolitan liberal fraction of the middle-classes.