On the concept of moral panic

David Garland

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The article develops a critical analysis of the concept of moral panic and its sociological uses. Arguing that some of the concept's subtlety and power has been lost as the term has become popular, the article foregrounds its Freudian and Durkheimian aspects and explicates the epistemological and ethical issues involved in its use. Contrasting the dynamics of moral panics to the dynamics of culture wars, the author shows that both phenomena involve group relations and status competition, though each displays a characteristically different structure. The piece concludes by situating 'moral panics' within a larger typology of concepts utilized in the sociology of social reaction.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)9-30
    Number of pages22
    JournalCrime, Media, Culture
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 2008


    • Ethics of attribution
    • Moral panic
    • Social reaction
    • Sociology of moral reaction
    • Theory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Communication
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Law


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