Are The Concepts Of Folk Devils And Moral Panic Still Useful For Criminology Today? Illustrate Your Response Drawing On Recent Examples

1094 words - 5 pages

Are the concepts of folk devils and moral panic still useful for criminology today? Illustrate your response drawing on recent examples.

Ideas of folk devils and moral panic have been useful ways for criminologists to explain the phenomena and reasoning behind the occurrence of certain crimes, such as abuse, hate-crimes and stigma. This essay will look at how these concepts developed, defining them in their sociological and criminological context, the role the media has played in the development of such ideas in the minds of the people, and the result, focusing on the stigma and persecution associated with examples of our modern day moral panics connected with asylum seekers, and the ...view middle of the document...

These are the safeguards of the ‘moral guardians’; people or groups in a position of some power or influence, who take it upon themselves to dictate what is and what is not to be considered moral, and make use of the media to stir attention in either direction. An example of this may be the BBCs own Mary Whitehouse in the latter half of the 20th century, or the tabloid newspapers, such as ‘the Sun’.

The crime of paedophilia is one particularly featured in the media, telling people to be careful of exposing their families to convicted or potential paedophiles after a number of tragic cases in the last few decades. However, the media makes the mistake of portraying an image that a paedophile adopts, namely that of a middle aged, creepy loner male, which might mislead the public as to where the danger lies. Although there are a number of such crimes associated to individuals of this profile, just as often the exact opposite profile, that of a young, stable married person committing these crimes, such as in the case of ..... The media has stirred up frenzy, victimising the stereo typical paedophile because it fits in with our perceived expectations, but dangerously puts us into a false sense of security that such crimes could not possibly be committed by any other type of individual. The soap opera ‘Eastenders’ had a story last year featuring a young girl who had been abused by her step father, who did fit the stereotypical image of a child abuser. This could be considered as a positive way media can be used to alter our conceptions, without causing panic within our society. However, there have also been a number of examples where innocent people, who happen to have a similar sounding name or occupation to those attributed to paedophilia, have been attack, such the incident where a paediatric unit was attacked, paediatricians, and a name named Peter File also. It is this that is of particular interest to criminologists; the way in which the moral panic manifests and develops into what to what can be considered itself, a violent and harmful thing to our society.

While the paedophilia is illegal, and quite rightly causes outrage in our society, other groups, such as...

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