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The idea of moral panic – ten dimensions of dispute

David, M.; Rohloff, A.; Petley, J.; Hughes, J.

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A. Rohloff

J. Petley

J. Hughes


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.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2011
Deposit Date Sep 24, 2012
Publicly Available Date Apr 23, 2014
Journal Crime, Media, Culture
Print ISSN 1741-6590
Electronic ISSN 1741-6604
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 3
Pages 215-228
Keywords Audience effects, Deviancy amplification, Folk devils, Media, Moral panic, Regulation.


Accepted Journal Article (273 Kb)

Copyright Statement
The final definitive version of this article has been published in the journal Crime, media, culture, 7/3, 2011, © The Author(s) by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Crime, media, culture page: on SAGE Journals Online:

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