What through “labelling”, leading to a self

What is a Moral
Panic?

 

It is best
to define what a moral panic and examples of such are before I begin to go into
depth analysis about different examples. In 1971, Young, used the term moral
panic, which was further developed by Cohen in 1972. A moral panic is ” a
feeling of fear spread among a large number of people that some evil threatens
the well being of society” (Stanley Cohen, 1972) he continues to argue that a
moral panic occurs when a “condition, episode, person or group of persons
emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.”
Further going on to blaming the media as having a massive part in enforcing the
moral panics regardless of simple reporting or exacerbation.

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I feel that
this was a relevant source to reference as part of dissertation due to the fact
that my dissertation is looking at the role of the media including radio in
deeming youth subcultures as deviant through the use of negative reporting and
reinforcing such stereotypes to the public making it seem deviant by looking at
the way that these groups behave, dress, what they listen to etc., making it
apparent to the mainstream society who belongs to which group and how deviant
or even criminal they could be, through “labelling”, leading to a self
fulfilling prophecy that in turns amplifies the situation.

 

The emergence of
this thing called “youth culture” is a distinctly 20th-century
phenomenon; the collision of increased standards of living, more leisure time,
the explosion of post-war consumer culture and wider psychological research
into adolescents all contributed to the formation of this new social category
defined by age. Previously, the rite of passage between childhood and adult
life had not been so clearly demarcated -this is not to say that young adults
didn’t have their own activities before the invention of Brylcreem and crepe
soles (youth gangs were common in Victorian Britain, for example) but it hadn’t
before been defined or packaged as a culture.

 

 

This is
backed up by the fact that Cohen believes that the media overreact to behavior
that challenges the existing norms nevertheless it’s the media’s response and
representation of that behavior that in turns defines it, communicates it and
constructs into a model for the mainstream society to identify them. Thus
sending society into “mass hysteria” over these particular groups, issues and
or events, as the public after seeing said reports would believe it’s a bigger
issue than it initially was, connoting that the media fuels the moral panic
representing it as socially unacceptable behaviour.

 

Which leads
me to the issue of Kidulthood, where this moral panic represented youths as
deviants, as they were portrayed as irresponsible, and lead self-indulgent
lifestyles.

Examples of
this are of mods and rockers, where in the spring of 1964, the ‘red top’
tabloid press presented headlines that implied that there were two rival youth
groups, the mods and rockers, and how they had participated in violent and
disturbing clashes at holidays resorts around Britain. Cohen studied in depth
the reports of the Daily Mirror’s front page where it was reported that their
were all day clashes, rival gangs, how it was a day of terror, how there was
mayhem at the seaside and went on to describe the scene as a battlefield. When
In actual fact Cohen found little evidence to suggest that there were clashes
to that magnitude of motor cycle/scooter gangs. He continued to argue that what
was actually reported was ‘ distorted, wildly exaggerated, and portrayed a false
picture of what actually went on.” Thus connoting a massive instance of a moral
panic, attempting to suggest that not only was the report wildly exacerbated
but there was also predication from the press that further conflict was
inevitable, all by symbolising all youth as 
negative and labelled them as deviant.

 

This media
reaction caused a “crackdown” on the particular group, thus due to the wider
public concern there was an increase in police surveillance, more arrests and
it seemed to confirm a validity of the initial press reports, possibly being in
part due to the self-fullfiling  prophecy
as if you’re constantly told you’re deviant you’ll be more likely to conform
the label that’s being associated with you and your group. Due to the negative
stigma attached to the mods and the rockers advertised; it in turn encouraged
young people to join either group, thus creating more polarization, more
clashes and again reinforcing the initial reports. Therefore, leading to what
Wilkins would describe as the ‘Deviancy Amplification Spiral’; less tolerance
of a group leads to more acts being describe as criminal, therefore more action
being taken to against the said ‘criminals’ leading to more alienation of the
groups, isolating them from the rest of society, which then causes the said
groups to get frustrated and commit more crime. Due to the all labels being
associated with them and due to the fact that they are being isolated they
conform to the labels. Resulting in the media’s negative reports of youth
groups have a direct impact on the way the youth are seen and the panic spread
throughout the nation. It allow us to perceive the medias exaggeration, from
the selective reporting and the police targeting that actually makes the
matters worse and creates more crime waves and social issues.  Thus suggesting that the mass media,
construct concerns about certain behaviours regardless of how minimal or
uncertain the threat is.

 

 Cohen argues that moral panics are a result of
a boundary crisis, meaning that there was no defining boundary between what was
deemed acceptable and unacceptable during a time of social change. For the
media to create some sort of stability, they created scapegoats or ‘folk
devils’; who inadvertently became symbols to society of what is wrong with
society. Therefore, can anything that moral panics acts as a way to identify
the issues of social unrest, and attempt to fix them from the public gaze.
Further reinforcing the fact that moral panics reflector uncertainty.

 

Cohen’s
study of moral panics and folk devils I feel is relevant to my study to Looking
into previous incarnations of subculture, mass media played a huge role, in
reinforcing Youth subcultures into particular ways, representing them
negatively. Thus providing me with an example of how much a role the media play
when it comes to reporting on youth subculture and the subsequent negative
impact of said subculture, In this instance mods and rockers and how they were
labelled with stereotype that affiliated them with deviancy.

 

 This study can be applied to many different
moral panics and social problems, including U games, school violence, illegal
immigration and terrorism. It also employers is that the relationship between
both the media and State officials government etc., is symbiotic, meaning that
whilst politicians and police etc., need outlets to distribute their content
and media also needs content to entice and attract both the audience and
advertisers. Thus by exaggerating reports to create fear and reinforce certain
stereotypes exist in the world the highlights social issues. This is done
through what Cohen I Would say are the five sets of social actors, one would be
identifying the folk devils; these are be the mods and rockers, punks, chavs
etc., secondly it would be the rule of law enforcers; this being the actual
events taking place, thirdly would be the media getting a hold of it; this is
where the story would be exacerbated and distorted; next ill be discussed by
politicians where build decide what laws to be put into place and lastly it
would make way to the public aware there would be mass concern, thus creating a
cycle where does you have been labelled deviant Live up to their self filled
prophecy. So in that country is spiraling social reaction really intolerance,
media stereotyping, outrage, the increased surveillance which then lead to
labelling and then polarization of the groups and marginalization in society of
such groups and then finally into deviancy application which thereby supported
the initial reaction.

 

A report by
the Guardian in March 2014, by Alexis Petridis, argues that examining
subcultures In modern times , is difficult due to a blur of different fads,
thus making it confusing, as there different movements that arrive and become
popular then quickly disappears, and instead of it being about it once was in
terms of making a statement for what you believe in and your political
ideologies, now its about fashion and showing off on social media, with such
media saturating what subcultures once were and now allowing the mass media to
pick and choose what parts they want to identify with themselves. Post
modernists would agree with this as they would argue that through the use
of  different mediums such as radio,
television and advertising etc. it has created a sense of popular culture
whereby you are what you consume as argued by Bauman (1996) he argues that in a
post modern society people consume what they whatever they like as everything
Is accessible due to the media, therefore can construct their own identities and
change them whenever they want. This is further reinforced by the argument of
globalization whereby

 

Luke and
Luke (2000)  suggest that our culture in
a post modern society is derived from the media that is global, where you
cultures now where young people take different elements from global cultures
and I’ll featured prominently in the media and then adapting it to suit their
values. This similarly can be argued by Cashmore study in 1977, whereby it
began in 1960s in Jamaica, however by the 1970s seventies became very popular
in black neighbourhoods in New York and then by the 80s it was promoted and
popular worldwide, and since it has been evolving constantly to adapt a whole
new generation of youth in contemporary times.

 

Therefore
suggesting now that moral panics aren’t is much to do now with use cultures
and, As Youth culture isn’t as much to do with political ideologies and
anti-government messages, however now more about a fashion statement and the
new fad which in turn changes every couple years creating new fads constantly.

 

However,
there is reason to believe that there are still a few recognisable subcultures
such as emo’s and goths, however these groups aren’t seen as deviant as they
once did. Its more so the ‘Chav’ subculture in which is still seen as very
deviant with terms such as ‘Chavphobia’ being coined. There are moral panics
concerning this subculture due to the media representation of them, showing
that they are affiliated with the undesirable features picked by the media,
often being associated with ASBO’s. However as I have argued in Chapters 1
about music, Chavs aren’t specifically associated with any music genre,
therefore the ideals are due to a divide in society possibly.

 

 In accordance to labelling, immediately a
somewhat subordinate role, this is due to the media creating categories of
crime in emphasizing them within such mediums. The Example of this is Becker’s
(1963) Analysis marijuana tax in the US as he emphasized the media as an agent
all the Federal bureau of narcotics in creating new law.

 

Therefore
arguing that the media does play a crucial role in shaping will be see as
deviant and criminal. This supports Goode and Ben- Yehuda (2009) Study of media
amplified crime waves and moral panics about law and order. Thus, this connotes
that the media as an institution significantly contributes having a direct
correlation between media and apparent levels of crime/deviancy three the
construction of deviancy and amplifying deviant activities through the media. This
is further done, due to the fact that the media portray lifestyles that
everyone wants, therefore showing relative deprivation thus allowing said
subcultures to obtain same level of affluence through illegitimate means. That
suggested the media has a major role with labelling, creating a motive,
creating a means, creating opportunity and the media show the threat of
sanctions.

 

Goode and
Young (2009), further developed this study by looking further into the key
criteria that Cohen discussed in regards to identifying key features of a moral
panic. The five key features that they had identified where concern, this is
being a report of an event or a group that creates some sort of upset;
hostility, whereby such events are identified and criticized, this is also
where and key individuals and groups can be identified and labelled as ‘ folk
devils’; this leads to a consensus, where the public have negative reaction as
a collective. Moreover, there is disproportionality, which is where the degree
obviously was greatly exaggerated and finally there’s volatility where the
media attention and the panic from the public emerge greatly; however it can
also die down quickly to. I find that these studies were relevant to my final
dissertation due to the fact that they will support one another from one study
initially starting with young in 1971 that’s further being developed by Cohan
in 1972, and also been studied by Goode and Young in 2009, which allows me to
look at one study that’s been developed over the course of time whereby moral
panics and more prevalent within youth subcultures in the 50s, 60s, 70s and
80s, and now where it’s more blurred and not as defined as I’ve researched from
the article from The Guardian, in 2014.

 

 In my chapters, I looked at the effects of the
fashion and music on you subcultures and how the media perceives that as being
away to identify and label youth subcultures as deviant these coincide studies
from Cohen and Young and Goode, as they look at the direct impact of
stereotyping and labelling in order to associate youth subculture with deviancy
regardless of whether the events and the individuals were deviant in the first
place, through the use of distortion and exaggeration the median is able to
turn certain groups into folk devils, that’s perpetuating cycle in which
spirals and causes a subcultures to act accordingly thus being known as the
self fulfilling prophecy.

 

The media’s
impact to moral panics, has a dire consequence on the different subcultures due
to the fact that there is a negative response to the identity of the
individuals associated with the group, thus leading to the members of such
groups being condemned and labelled as deviant/criminal and as such resulting
in them accepting their label instead of rejecting it, and thus justifying the
initial claims and reports.