This paper explores the open and contested concept of moral panic over its 40-year history, exploring the contributions made by the concept’s key originators, as well as contemporary researchers. While most moral panic researchers are critical, humanist, interpretivist, interventionist and qualitative, this paper highlights ten areas of productive dispute within and around the meaning of moral panic theory’s ‘common sense’. Such diversity of interpretation creates multiple possibilities for convergent and divergent theorization and research within a supposedly singular conceptual framework. This lack of closure and consequent diversity of political standpoints, intellectual perspectives and fields of empirical focus, rather than representing the weakness of the concept of moral panic, reflects and contributes to its successful diffusion, escalation and innovation.
David, M., Rohloff, A., Petley, J., & Hughes, J. (2011). The idea of moral panic – ten dimensions of dispute. Crime, Media, Culture, 7(3), 215-228. https://doi.org/10.1177/1741659011417601