skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 185994 Find in a Library
Title: Media, Moral Panics and the Politics of Crime Control (From Criminal Justice System: Politics and Policies, Seventh Edition, P 58-75, 1998, George F. Cole and Marc G. Gertz, eds. -- See NCJ-185991)
Author(s): Ted Chiricos
Date Published: 1998
Page Count: 18
Sponsoring Agency: Wadsworth Publishing Co
Belmont, CA 94002
Sale Source: Wadsworth Publishing Co
Ten Davis Drive
Belmont, CA 94002
United States of America
Type: Collected Work
Format: Book (Softbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Recognizing criminologists use the concept of "moral panic" to try to understand why the public becomes almost hysterical about perceived threats to societal values and interests, the author argues moral panics are used by political leaders to justify expansion of the power of the State.
Abstract: Hysteria over violent crime is a classic example of moral panic, a concept developed by Cohen who noted that at certain times a condition, episode, person, or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests. Moral panics can be understood as having an ideological dimension in that they initiate partisan calls to do something and there is a distortion of reality in pursuit of that objective. Recent moral panics in the United States are examined that involved crack cocaine in the late 1980's and violent crime in the 1993-1994 period. In showing how moral panic has misunderstood drug abuse and violence, the author does not suggest these are not significant problems. Rather, he argues moral panics disguise the fact that drugs and violence have been extraordinary problems for several decades, problems disproportionately affecting residents of inner cities. Command implications of moral panics over drugs and violence are discussed, particularly in terms of Federal and State legislative responses. 53 references and 3 figures
Main Term(s): Criminology theory evaluation
Index Term(s): Cocaine; Crack; Crime control policies; Criminal justice system policy; Drug abuse; Media coverage; Moral Panic; Political influences; Public Opinion of Crime; United States of America; Violence prevention; Violent crimes
Note: Reprinted by permission of the Yale Law Journal Company and Fred B. Rothman & Company from The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 69, pp. 543-594.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.