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Moral Panics

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Moral Panics Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Inseparable Companions: American Youth and Moral Panics February 8, 2012
  • 2. Other People’s Property (1951)
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpCIE1gHrzY&feature=related
  • 3. Reading Hajdu
    • Don’t worry about biographical details
    • Look for broad pronouncements about chronology, motivation, change (sometimes they’ll stick out at the beginning of a paragraph, but not always):
      • “ To watchdogs of American esteem in the early post-Victorian years, the earthy and raucous pages of the Sunday funnies threatened to devalue the US’ emerging status as a civilized world power” (12).
      • “ Superman spoke directly to survivors of the Depression: he was an immigrant (from another planet) himself, and he embodied the Roosevelt-era ideal of power employed for the public good” (30).
      • “ Nearly all young people—boys and girls, loners, athletes, scholars, and debutantes—read comic books, and most of their parents did not” (37).
      • “ Within a year of Pearl Harbor, the American press was probing the effects of the war on home-front families, and reports of uncaged young animals tearing up their neighborhoods began appearing in newspapers and magazines around the country” (83).
  • 4. This Lecture
    • What is a “moral panic”?
    • Moral panics and youth: a special relationship
    • MPs and youth in the US: the 1920s and the 1950s
  • 5. Genealogy of “Moral Panic”
    • Term coined by sociologist Stanley Cohen, 1972
    • Characteristics, per Cohen…universal in all “societies”; mass media is involved in representation and exacerbates panic; outcomes are various
    • Later additions to theory: Stuart Hall et al believed that the state was often also involved for its own ends (control of immigrant, black communities)
    • OTOH, Underdown et al believed that some threats could be real, and sociologists shouldn’t assume that people are being manipulated
  • 6. Mods v. Rockers
  • 7. Moral Panics and Youth
    • Made worse by belief in “tabula rasa”
    • Emphasis on society’s supposed decadence, declension
    • Conservative or liberal? Strange bedfellows
    • Often, the media panics about the media
    • Particular significance of race and class
  • 8.  
  • 9. Adam Walsh, 6, kidnapped in Florida, 1981
  • 10. Moral Panics of the 20s
  • 11. John Held, Jr.: “Insatiable Neckers” (early 1920s)
  • 12. 1920s: Parental Objections/Underlying Anxieties
    • Short skirts! Insatiable necking! Smoking! Disrespect! Amorality!
    • James Truslow Adams: “Here in these United States in this post-war period, realizing that all is not right with our world, we have found the scapegoat which permits us to go about our business with a free mind. The name on its collar is ‘The Younger Generation…’” (Fass, 17)
    • Parents were: Sad about the War. Nervous about technological change. Confused about possibilities for more leisure. Conflicted about the evident failure of Prohibition.
  • 13. Brando in “The Wild One,” 1953
  • 14. Looking Ahead to the Postwar Period: Moral Panics/Underlying Causes
    • Mass media brainwashes kids! Fathers are losing authority! Kids pay more attention to their peers than their parents! Kids are sinking to lowest possible cultural level!
    • Parents were: Afraid of robotic conformity (demonstrable effectiveness of propaganda in WWII/advertising). Nervous about wartime breakdown of gender boundaries. Guilty about the war/the bomb. Uneasy with class mobility.
  • 15. References
    • “ 1964: Mods and Rockers Jailed After Seaside Riots.” BBC, “On This Day,” May 18; http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/18/newsid_2511000/2511245.stm (accessed 2/7/12)
    • Cohen, Stanley. Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers (MacGibbon and Kee, 1972)
    • Fass, Paula. The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s (Oxford UP, 1977)
    • Hall, Stuart, et al. Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State, and Law and Order (1978)
    • Gilbert, James. A Cycle of Outrage: America’s Reaction to the Juvenile Delinquent in the 1950s (Oxford UP, 1986)
    • Hunt, Arnold. “’Moral Panic’ and Moral Language in the Media.” The British Journal of Sociology , vol 48, no 4 (December 1997), 629-648.
    • Page, Ellen Welles. “A Flapper’s Appeal to Parents.” Outlook, December 6, 1922, p. 607. (Accessed at http://faculty.pittstate.edu/~knichols/flapperappeal.html , 2/7/12)
    • Underdown, David. Revel, Riot, and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 (Clarendon Press, 1985)
    • “ What Makes Sneaker Collecting a Subculture?”, SHB:SneakerHeadBlog, May 12, 2011; http://sneakerheadblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/what-make-sneaker-collecting-a-subculture/ (accessed 2/7/12)