Posts Tagged ‘ legislation ’

Moral Panics: How Media Influences the Legislature

By Daljinder Nagra

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the role of news media in the shaping of legislation, through the social phenomenon of moral panics. The nature of moral panics and the media’s role in shaping public opinion will be discussed and their implications to the statute books analysed.

The moral panic

A moral panic is a recurring phenomenon in which a society expresses an intense reaction to a perceived situation. Cohen’s study of the Mods and Rockers subcultures yields perhaps the most widely accepted definition: ‘a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.’ This is the start of a cycle, the next step of which is the reporting of the emergent deviance in a stylized and stereotypical manner by the mass media. Solutions are devised by ‘right thinking people and socially accredited experts’ and the panic finally dissipates or becomes more prominent as a result of failure to address the perceived threat. (Cohen 1972/80: 9). Continue reading