Can you identify any examples of ‘folk devils’ and ‘moral panics’ that have happened in recent years or that are happening now?
Working in small groups, choose a possible example of a folk devil and then investigate it through newspapers and the internet. Possible choices might include: knife crime; ‘happy-slapping’; child abuse; paedophilia; teenage pregnancy; hoodies.
- Find examples of the three elements Cohen describes – exaggeration/distortion, prediction and symbolisation.
- Do any of these panics have the effect of increasing deviance?
- Do you agree with McRobbie and Thornton’s view that the increasing number of moral panics and media exaggeration mean that, now, such panics have less impact than they did in the past?
- Suggest two groups that you would identify as folk devils, even though you have no personal experience of them and rely solely on media interpretations.